Squished moon, above the clouds

March 11, 2019

Mahalo for all the comments! I forgot to mention, if you click on the photos you get a bigger version with more detail.

Up until today it’s been very windy at the summit area. Often a big cloud will come in from the east and suddenly it’s like you’re in a fog. Water comes horizontally with the wind and while it’s not really raining, the effect is the same. That and high clouds have cut down on the star photos the last few days. But the moon set on Saturday was amazing in that as it approached the horizon, atmospheric distortion caused the orb to be ‘squished’ in appearance. The crescent lit directly by the sun is almost ‘touching’ the cloud, the Earthshine on the unlit portion glows orange, like an orange sunrise or sunset.

“Squished” moon setting between lava rocks,

Yesterday’s sunset was pretty remarkable from the summit. I’m hoping to limit the sunsets/sunrises to one each to not bore you with the dazzling sky. As I’m walking from the parking lot I see a row of people on an overlook and decided that was an interesting photo. The sun is just creeping below the big cloud layer at the top and you can see the clouds below the summit that the light is reflecting off of. Most of the time driving up or down the mountain, you are above clouds, like in an airplane.

Tanya Ortega from the National Parks Arts Foundation got in touch with astronomers from the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii, the group that runs the Haleakala Observatories at the summit. They put me in touch with Rob, a man who works at the observatories and would be my contact. I wanted to try to get some close-up photos of the telescope domes from angles that aren’t reached by the public viewpoints in the park. Rob showed me around the site last week and arranged for me to get access at night, which I’m very appreciative of. Couple of the big telescopes in the photos are the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, the latest in state-of-the-art solar ground-based observatories and PanSTARRS (Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System) which searches for Near Earth Objects that may collide with us.

Tuesday morning I’m hiking into the volcano to the Holua ranger cabin, just under 4 miles, for a 3-day stay. Pretty challenging for me as I’ll be carrying about a 30-pound pack (maybe more) with clothes, food and cameras. Going in isn’t the hard part, coming out (up to the crater rim) will be tough. Aloha, see you in a few days.

Sunset from the summit.
The Milky Way rises over PanSTARRS and the Daniels K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) in the pre-dawn hours.
Orion and stars over DKIST.
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