And so we say farewell to the tropics for now with this view of the summit of Maunakea from my 2009 flight back to Honolulu and then home. Most of the observatories are visible here, with the exception of the most important one for me: the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope is hidden in the so-called submillimetre valley behind the main summit ridge. I’ll post some photos of that next time 🙂

Getting a port-side window seat on the inter-island flight was always a priority for an astronomer in case it was clear enough to get a view of the summit of Mauna Kea. Fortunately, it was on this occasion and although I was not in a window seat, the person next to me was kind enough to swap when they realized how much I wanted to take photos. I love the fact that I have part of the aircraft wing in the frame – it lends some context to the picture. And the side lighting – even though it’s a bit hazy and the contrast is a bit low – is quite lovely. That was one of the nicest inter-island flights I’ve had – the sunset as we approached Honolulu was gorgeous! I’ll get round to posting photos of that at some point.

The White Mountain

I’ve decided this week deserves some photos from Hawaii 🙂 For Mountain Monday I’m starting with a view of Maunakea, its summit dotted with white telescope domes, as seen from the hike up to Mauna Loa.

I didn’t post much on Instagram last week, mostly because I hadn’t taken much recently that I thought was any good. But I had this idea late yesterday to post a week’s worth of photos from various trips to Hawaii as a way to fill in the current gap in my photographic output. I have quite a few photos from the land of aloha taken over the years, so I imagine that this won’t be the last time I have a Hawaii feature week. And it gave me the idea to feature different places I’ve explored too.

Back to the photo. Maria and I had wanted to hike up to the summit of Mauna Loa for years, and we finally got around to tackling it in August 2014. This is the view across the broken lava fields towards its bigger sister, Mauna Kea – the white mountain – which turns out to be the tallest mountain in the world as measured from the sea bed where it begins. The various observatory domes are gleaming white at the summit, and the colour changes from the lush green of the saddle into the yellows and browns of the ranchland before the vegetation runs out and the rusty colour of the cinder takes over. (Walking on Mauna Kea is how I imagine it feels to be on Mars.) It’s a view I’d been wanting to see for over two decades and it was a truly spectacular sight.

At some point in the years since I first visited Hawaii, Mauna Kea came to be referred to as Maunakea and so I’m never quite sure which way to spell it these days. I’m hedging my bets and using both 🙂