Thursday, 11 February 2010

Strolling around the summit again

Just a few more pictures from Sunday night (click on them for larger versions). I was looking back at some of the pictures I posted from Mauna Kea's summit early last year and it's very clear how much of an effect El Nino has had this winter. Since the new year the skies have been clear and observing conditions mostly excellent which is unusual during the winter. There's been little if any snow and the high clouds that allow for those dramatic sunset shots simply haven't been there.

Just outside the UH 88-inch looking east. The shadow of Mauna Kea is weakening because I got there a bit late! Hilo Bay is visible to the centre-right of the photo which is unusual in the evening as more often than not the lower level clouds have built up so much during the day they hide the east coast. Just another sign that the weather conditions are unusual. We often get a clear view of Hilo and the windward side when driving down at sunrise because the clouds dissipate during the night. Seeing the bay at sunset is rare.

To my left was Gemini - fully open and venting the dome to ensure the best chances for excellent image quality during the night, especially during the first couple of hours. It also has a telephone. The wonders of modern technology!

(Actually, the sign points to an emergency telephone in the UH 88-inch observatory).

After the sun had set I took a couple of photos of the big guys to the west. Subaru, to the left, captures the last few rays of sunlight and has a golden glow. Keck I is to the right.

Left to right, Keck I and II with Haleakala on Maui in the background. Keck II just started to open the dome as I took the shot.

It was a windy and cold evening, my fingers were numb when I went back into the "office" to start work for the night. I'm surprised the shots are as sharp as they are because I could see the camera and tripod wobbling in the wind. That's technology for you, the camera actually corrected for the vibration, even in a cheap camera like mine!


WesIsland said...

Your photos just keep getting more inspiring? Thanks for sharing.

WesIsland said...

Inspiring !! (not ?)

Keera Ann Fox said...

I love that top photo! How do you manage to keep presenting something new from the same place? That's talent!

Richard Jesse Watson said...


Tom said...


Firstly, thank you! Secondly, Keera asked a good question. The answer is that I don't think I have a talent for this (I do know I have a good "eye" but that's different). What's special about the summit of MK is that the light changes so rapidly so a scene that looks beautiful at 6pm is completely different at 6:05pm. And it changes day to day.

Basically, the colours change minute to minute at sunrise or sunset and it makes things look very different. That doesn't involve any talent, it's nature. I'm just lucky enough to be there from time to time.


Keera Ann Fox said...

A good eye is talent, Tom! And thanks for telling us about the light on MK.