Mauna Kea Observatories - CFHT & Gemini N, USA
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USA Mauna Kea Observatories - CFHT & Gemini N

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Mauna Kea is one of the best locations in the world for large professional telescopes. If you are an astronomy buff, visiting the top of Mauna Kea is well worth the effort.

This image shows the CFHT dome in the back left and the Gemini North dome in the front right.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mauna_Kea_Observatories

Photography Tips

During the day, this is basically landscape photography, but under a much more intense sun, due to both the latitude and the elevation. If you enter the visitor gallery for one of the telescopes (e.g. Keck I, which we visited), you are up against low available light indoors. A wide-angle lens is needed for Keck I.

Travel Information

You can get to Saddle Road from either Hilo or Kona. Head north on Mauna Kea Road. It is paved up to the Visitor Center (at 9000 ft) and then again at the summit. In between is a gravel road for which you should have a four-wheel drive.

The summit of Mauna Kea is about 13,800 feet, so the air is thin, the sun is intense, and the winds can be cold, even in summer. You cannot linger at the summit after sunset, but that's a good time to head back to the visitor centre. In non-Covid times, the docents would set up telescopes for public viewing.

See http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/info/vis/visiting-mauna-kea/visiting-the-summit.html
Spot Type Outdoor
Crowd Factor Just a few people
Best Timing Daytime during summer
Sunrise & Sunset 05:53 - 19:02 | current local time: 03:26
Photo Themes astronomy Observatories

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Thank you Fred Lusk for creating this photo spot in USA and Mia Pflieger for improving it with additional photos or content.
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