At the top of the tallest volcanic mountains on Hawaii are the world’s premier telescopes. They are here because the air is calm and dry, high above the clouds and turbulence of lower elevations. The tradeoff is cold and snow, a small price to pay for the chance to explore the secrets of the universe.
The rosy glow of scattered twilight in the East is known as the “Belt of Venus”, which rides above the deep blue of Earth’s shadow on the sky. Here it is witnessed from the vantage of Hawaii’s tallest peak, Mauna Kea, as the world’s premier telescopes prepare for another evening of peering into the universe.
It looks like a daytime picture but there was only the full moon. With enough exposure, what looks like black sky to me becomes sky blue to the film. The dreamy quality is made by the passage of light clouds blowing through during the exposure, and by the cumulative misty effect of waves breaking on the shore. A rogue wave climbs far up the beach and glistens in the moonlight for a moment before sinking back into the sand. A close look will find masts waving as their moored sailboats maneuver against the wind.
The constellation Orion is hiding in the clouds. The three belt stars make a characteristic cat scratch during the time exposure. To the left, undimmed by faint clouds is Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.
Not an ideal night for star pictures! The moon is full, clouds and haze fill the sky, and nearby lights conspire to wash out the darkness. Even so, the pattern of the Big Dipper constellation behind the palm trees is enchanting.
In most star trail pictures a fixed camera records a static landscape and the only motion is from the clocklike rotation of the stars. In this case the palm trees are turned into flowers waving in the wind, even as the star trails keep their sharp focus. The rising full moon and the lights of this Hawaiian island color the clouds, furthering the dreamlike quality in this picture.
The moon is bright enough to show during broad daylight. Here a nearly full moon is framed by branches of palm trees that line the beaches of Kanapaali. As the day progresses to evening the powerful effect of moonlight will add to the already potent romance of this Hawaiian island.
It is an unnerving experience to be looking down at the clouds. In this view the color of the sky seems exaggerated, but it is our proximity to space that gives it the dark tint: there is less air above us at this elevation. The clouds we are looking down upon take on the reflected color of the sky which makes a stark contrast to the rust-red landscape of the volcano’s summit. The island of Hawaii can be seen in the distance, apparently floating among the thunder cells building up around it.