Big Island Winter Stargazing

Have you noticed that “space” is all over the news and in the movie theaters lately? Take a look at NASA’s Orion spacecraft having just completed a perfect launch and try to imagine the future of space travel with humans blasting off, again. “The final frontier” is closer than ever, ripe for exploration and NASA’s Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) will soon take astronauts to the Moon, Mars, Asteroids and beyond.

Those of us, of a certain age,  remember being sleepy tykes coaxed out of bed by dutiful parents to watch Apollo missions and those first steps on the moon.  Now probes are landing on comets! Really? Some people say no big deal, no humans on board…except that the Philae probe is only about the size of a mini-fridge and Comet 67P Churyumov–Gerasimenko (wow that’s a mouthful)  is limping along at 81,000 mph – BRAVO to the European Space Agency! Think back about how you spent the last ten years of your life. Were you globe-trotting, job-hopping, raising a family or tracking an object on a 500 million km trek?

If you’re a space geek or a beginning star gazer, a trip up to Mauna Kea and the visitor’s observatory is a must  on The Big Island of Hawaii to go winter stargazing. We’ve blogged about this trip in the past and our guests at Holualoa Inn always come back with great adventure stories.  So in light of all the recent news about space, and for those still pondering the movie Interstellar or Stephan Hawking theoretical physics, it’s a good time to remind everyone why you must make this trek!

-Monster Merging Galaxies? A Hidden Universe? Wormholes, Blackholes and The Eye of Sauron? The astronomers at Keck Observatory connect our world with the universe! The combined viewing power of 13 telescopes operated by 11 countries eclipses even that of the Hubble Space Telescope.

  • Ascending Mauna Kea, you will climb the tallest mountain on earth at 33,100 ft! No worries, a good portion is under water…
  • The landscape is a simulated Lunar surface and Apollo Astronaut Alan Shepard and colleagues actually trained here to go to the Moon. Check out these photos!
  • Your mid-pacific observatory, devoid of urban light, will offer you the most dazzling night sky of your life.
  • The laser-guided tour of the constellations by the experts rocks!
  • From Sea to Snow in one day? Snorkeling with turtles followed by a snowball fight,  pretty cool…

Useful Links

Coming up Dec. 20, 2014 Ho’ollo – “Stories of the Winter Stars, constellations, and other astronomical phenomena as seen from Hawaii in the wintertime.”

WebCam – check the weather at the summit!

Winter Visits can be tricky if you are driving on your own so be prepared for snow in Hawaii.  Consider an experienced outfitter to handle the details while you enjoy the stars at night.