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Friday, June 08, 2007

Foto Friday: Mauna Kea Sunrise

I had to take a business trip to Hawaii last year, and on my last day there I woke up (too) early to find this:

Sunrise on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, Dec. 2006Sunrise on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, Dec. 2006

It's not the Earth's best picture, admittedly, since I didn't have the right film, or a tripod. I vaguely recall that this shot -- and another roll and a half like it, as the sun rose -- was obtained by balancing my camera on the railing of the lanai and holding vewy, vewy stiww. I remember wrapping the camera strap around my neck securely, because I was seven stories up.

The reddish blobs are the lights of the business district of Hilo, Hawaii, across the bay.

Usually in the morning (and frequently at other times) Mauna Kea is covered by clouds, but that morning the clouds had not yet gathered, and I went out and shot about a third of this roll, an entire roll of slides, and several more frames of a third roll while the sun came up and the light crept down the sides of the mountain and the clouds rose in a ring to obscure the top at last. I'll probably inflict some of those on you later.

Mauna Kea rises to almost 14,000 feet above sea level. But it's nearly 33,000 feet from its base on the ocean floor to the summit, making it the tallest mountain on Earth. Because it's so high, and in the middle of the ocean, the atmosphere at the summit is unusually stable, which means that Mauna Kea has broken out in mushrooms:

Telescope domes at sunrise
Mauna Kea, Hawaii, Dec. 2006

I know, I know...horrible grain. I was working at the limit of the film. That's an enlargment from a different frame from the same roll, where you could see the domes a little better. I didn't bother with the telephoto lens, since there was no way to steady it.

I'm not sure which telescopes those are, but I'm guessing they're the two Gemini telescopes, plus the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope, as seen here.

I went up to the summit on that trip, and got some nice photos of the domes. I'm bore you with those one of these days, too.

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