Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Mauna Kea: the Volcano with an Eye out in Space

celestial cone
Secondary crater at the base of Mauna Kea, yet above the clouds.
Small Mauna Keas
Mist about to cover a colony of fumaroles on Mount Mauna Kea.
Miniature Beings
Human visitors wait for dark to peer into space from Mount Mauna Kea
Door to Space
Space observatory about to open its telescope hatches
Golden Observatory
Sunset tinges the horizon and one of the observatories atop Mount Mauna Kea in warm tones.
army of observatories
Domes of space observatories from several countries, installed on top of Mount Mauna Kea.
Land Patches
Mountain edge in the middle of a sea of ​​clouds
Space wait
A group of visitors awaits the appearance of the stars in the firmament next to an observatory.
in line
Visitors scan the horizon around the Big Island at dusk. silhouettes at the top
above the world
Observatory domes at more than 4.000 meters in altitude and above the cloud cover. Above the clouds
An Artillery Dome
Chrome observatory contrasts with the dark earth at the top of Mauna Kea.
The roof of Hawaii was off-limits to natives because it housed benevolent deities. But since 1968, several nations sacrificed the peace of the gods and built the greatest astronomical station on the face of the Earth.

Despite the Anglophone name, as we explore the Big Island's vast interior, we almost forget that we're on an island.

Saddle Road winds from Hilo on the east coast to 2021 meters from its highest point. It punishes the engine of the car that we go through in low gears and a noisy effort.

Some time ago, local rent-a-car companies banned drivers from any adventures on the R200 (its official title), then considered one of the most dangerous of the world, due to the slope, the many one-way bridges, the poorly paved areas and their combination with frequent fog and rain.

However, local authorities have revamped the route. Only the irresolvable problem of the slope remained to be overcome. They continue to advise the climb to Mauna Kea on guided tours. Independent visitors quickly realize that nothing prevents them from moving forward on their own.

The Rise of the Mauna Kea Volcano, the Highest Mountain, from the Bottom of the Sea

That's what we do, renewing the suffering of the small utility vehicle that crawls up the mountain.

A few dozen turns later, we take a break to give you a break. We are faced with the strange sight of clouds invading the valley near the base of a colony of small craters reddened by the sunset.

Secondary Craters, Mauna Kea Volcano in Space, Big Island, Hawaii

Mist about to cover a colony of Mt fumaroles and volcano Mauna Kea.

At 2700 meters, we find the Visitors Centre, given to various Japanese excursions that meet the minimum acclimatization hour required by the summit.

The Second Half, after the Break for Acclimatization at the Visitors Center

Some sunbathe outside, others complete their astronomical training by examining the maps, videos and multimedia pieces displayed there. Still others discover the Japanese and Hawaiian roots of Ellison S. Onizuka, one of the astronauts sacrificed in 1986 by the Challenger shuttle explosion.

From the Visitors Center onwards, the asphalt gives way to a little beaten earth that makes the rest of the route dusty, as well as getting steeper.

Above 3.600 meters, the mountain reveals itself as a domain of extraterrestrial appearance, based on an ocher and red volcanic soil, devoid of vegetation but with new inactive craters projecting.

Once one of the last curves has been overcome, lost in the inhospitable landscape, the first white domes that house the telescopes are revealed.

Row of observatories, Mauna Kea volcano in space, Big Island, Hawaii

Domes of space observatories from several countries, installed on top of the Mauna Kea mountain and volcano.

The Astronomical Metamorphosis of Mount and Volcano Mauna Kea

In 1950, due to the lack of a road above 3.700 meters, only the neighboring island of Maui hosted observatories. Ten years later, the Chamber of Commerce began to encourage the astronomical development of Mauna Kea and to promote the mountain's unique potential.

At that time, NASA activity was intense, such as the dispute for partnerships between several universities in the United States. It justified, as never before, the installation of new observatories.

Chrome Observatory, Mauna Kea Volcano in Space, Big Island, Hawaii

Chromed Space Observatory contrasts with the dark earth from the top of the Mauna Kea volcano.

Several tests recorded the unique conditions of the roof of Hawai'i (Big Island) to house them. Beyond the simple location - in isolation in the high interior of the island and in the Pacific Ocean -, the dryness and stability of the atmosphere above the volcano top, which remains almost always above the clouds, enveloped in a darkness however protected by law.

In the mid-60s, NASA allocated funds to the University of Hawaii. They were intended to develop the local astronomical project. In 1970, this institution installed on Mauna Kea the UH88, the seventh most powerful optical/infrared telescope in the world, measuring 2.2 meters in diameter.

Other North American groups – such as the US Air Force and the Lowell Observatory – joined the colonization of the Mauna Kea which, soon after, was opened to foreign entities.

In 1973, Canada and France installed their CFHT, measuring 3.6 meters in diameter. Since then, individual and international projects have followed involving the United Kingdom, the Japan, Argentina, Australia: Brazil and the Chile, in a total of thirteen telescopes of different types.

It is, even today, the largest astronomical station in the world.

Observatories, Mauna Kea volcano in space, Big Island, Hawaii

Observatory domes at more than 4.000 meters in altitude and above the cloud cover. Above the clouds

Lush Sunset Below Mauna Kea Volcano That Unveils Space

The sun fades over the horizon. The temperature immediately drops to freezing levels. obliges the slaves of photography at the top taking refuge in more layers of clothing.

Queue for sunset, Mauna Kea volcano in space, Big Island, Hawaii

Visitors scan the horizon around the Mauna Kea volcano at dusk

At the same time, the cloud floor turns lilac and purple and the sky above is painted yellow and orange. These tones also dominate the top of the mountain and take over the domes. But it's not just the scenery that takes your breath away.

More because of the rarefaction of the air at an altitude of 4205 meters than because of the cold itself, any sudden or tiring movement requires long inspirations and, at best, takes a long time to recover.

Or it causes nausea and distressing headaches - not to mention occasional pulmonary and brain edemas – in those who ignored the necessary habituation or forgot their portable oxygen.

observatory, Mauna Kea volcano in space, Big Island, Hawaii

Sunset tinges the horizon and one of the observatories atop Mount Mauna Kea in warm tones.

We are not aware of such drastic cases. Well prepared, even better equipped, the small assistance on the summit lets itself be dazzled by the sunset. Meanwhile, scientists at the observatories complete yet another night of astronomical contemplation. They rotate the tops of the domes, and point the telescopes in the desired spatial direction.

When twilight ends, some visitors return to the base of Mauna Kea and then to Hilo, Kona and other places in the Big Island. Others, the privileged, enter the huge observatories, ascend to the upper floors, settle down and study the firmament.

New summit telescopes are planned, including a revolutionary new Pan-STARRS system (Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System) – which will monitor the celestial vault at full time and the gigantic Thirty Meter that will make observations possible with ten times more spatial resolution than that guaranteed by Hubble.

Both projects raised a huge controversy between the traditionalist population of Hawaii and the environmentalists.

Golden Observatory, Mauna Kea Volcano in Space, Big Island, Hawaii

Space observatory about to open the hatches of its telescopes to space.

If, in 1960, the gods were ignored, it would be difficult for humans to stop this unbridled race for the vision of Space.

Key West, USA

The Tropical Wild West of the USA

We've come to the end of the Overseas Highway and the ultimate stronghold of propagandism Florida Keys. The continental United States here they surrender to a dazzling turquoise emerald marine vastness. And to a southern reverie fueled by a kind of Caribbean spell.
Chã das Caldeiras, Fogo Island Cape Verde

A "French" Clan at the Mercy of Fire

In 1870, a Count born in Grenoble on his way to Brazilian exile, made a stopover in Cape Verde where native beauties tied him to the island of Fogo. Two of his children settled in the middle of the volcano's crater and continued to raise offspring there. Not even the destruction caused by the recent eruptions deters the prolific Montrond from the “county” they founded in Chã das Caldeiras.    
Maui, Hawaii

Maui: The Divine Hawaii That Succumbed to Fire

Maui is a former chief and hero of Hawaiian religious and traditional imagery. In the mythology of this archipelago, the demigod lassos the sun, raises the sky and performs a series of other feats on behalf of humans. Its namesake island, which the natives believe they created in the North Pacific, is itself prodigious.
Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park Indonesia

The Volcanic Sea of ​​Java

The gigantic Tengger caldera rises 2000m in the heart of a sandy expanse of east Java. From it project the highest mountain of this Indonesian island, the Semeru, and several other volcanoes. From the fertility and clemency of this sublime as well as Dantesque setting, one of the few Hindu communities that resisted the Muslim predominance around, thrives.
Pico Island, Azores

Pico Island: the Azores Volcano with the Atlantic at its Feet

By a mere volcanic whim, the youngest Azorean patch projects itself into the rock and lava apogee of Portuguese territory. The island of Pico is home to its highest and sharpest mountain. But not only. It is a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of the Azoreans who tamed this stunning island and surrounding ocean.

Mountains of Fire

More or less prominent ruptures in the earth's crust, volcanoes can prove to be as exuberant as they are capricious. Some of its eruptions are gentle, others prove annihilating.
Samarkand, Uzbekistan

The Astronomer Sultan

The grandson of one of the great conquerors of Central Asia, Ulugh Beg, preferred the sciences. In 1428, he built a space observatory in Samarkand. His studies of the stars led him to name a crater on the Moon.

Altitude Sickness: the Grievances of Getting Mountain Sick

When traveling, it happens that we find ourselves confronted with the lack of time to explore a place as unmissable as it is high. Medicine and previous experiences with Altitude Evil dictate that we should not risk ascending in a hurry.
La Palma, Canary IslandsSpain (España)

The Most Mediatic of the Cataclysms to Happen

The BBC reported that the collapse of a volcanic slope on the island of La Palma could generate a mega-tsunami. Whenever the area's volcanic activity increases, the media take the opportunity to scare the world.
napali coast, Hawaii

Hawaii's Dazzling Wrinkles

Kauai is the greenest and rainiest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is also the oldest. As we explore its Napalo Coast by land, sea and air, we are amazed to see how the passage of millennia has only favored it.
Big Island, Hawaii

Searching for Rivers of Lava

There are five volcanoes that make the big island of Hawaii grow day by day. Kilauea, the most active on Earth, is constantly releasing lava. Despite this, we live a kind of epic to envision it.
pearl harbor, Hawaii

The Day Japan Went Too Far

On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the Pearl Harbor military base. Today, parts of Hawaii look like Japanese colonies but the US will never forget the outrage.
Jabula Beach, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa
Saint Lucia, South Africa

An Africa as Wild as Zulu

On the eminence of the coast of Mozambique, the province of KwaZulu-Natal is home to an unexpected South Africa. Deserted beaches full of dunes, vast estuarine swamps and hills covered with fog fill this wild land also bathed by the Indian Ocean. It is shared by the subjects of the always proud Zulu nation and one of the most prolific and diverse fauna on the African continent.
Muktinath to Kagbeni, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal, Kagbeni
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit 14th - Muktinath to Kagbeni, Nepal

On the Other Side of the Pass

After the demanding crossing of Thorong La, we recover in the cozy village of Muktinath. The next morning we proceed back to lower altitudes. On the way to the ancient kingdom of Upper Mustang and the village of Kagbeni that serves as its gateway.
Alaskan Lumberjack Show Competition, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA
Architecture & Design
Ketchikan, Alaska

Here begins Alaska

The reality goes unnoticed in most of the world, but there are two Alaskas. In urban terms, the state is inaugurated in the south of its hidden frying pan handle, a strip of land separated from the contiguous USA along the west coast of Canada. Ketchikan, is the southernmost of Alaskan cities, its Rain Capital and the Salmon Capital of the World.
Passengers, scenic flights-Southern Alps, New Zealand
Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand

The Aeronautical Conquest of the Southern Alps

In 1955, pilot Harry Wigley created a system for taking off and landing on asphalt or snow. Since then, his company has unveiled, from the air, some of the greatest scenery in Oceania.
Ceremonies and Festivities
Apia, Western Samoa

Fia Fia – High Rotation Polynesian Folklore

From New Zealand to Easter Island and from here to Hawaii, there are many variations of Polynesian dances. Fia Fia's Samoan nights, in particular, are enlivened by one of the more fast-paced styles.
now from above ladder, sorcerer of new zealand, Christchurch, new zealand
Christchurch, New Zealand

New Zealand's Cursed Wizard

Despite his notoriety in the antipodes, Ian Channell, the New Zealand sorcerer, failed to predict or prevent several earthquakes that struck Christchurch. At the age of 88, after 23 years of contract with the city, he made very controversial statements and ended up fired.
Margilan, Uzbekistan

An Uzbekistan's Breadwinner

In one of the many bakeries in Margilan, worn out by the intense heat of the tandyr oven, the baker Maruf'Jon works half-baked like the distinctive traditional breads sold throughout Uzbekistan
Pueblos del Sur, Venezuela

The Pueblos del Sur Locainas, Their Dances and Co.

From the beginning of the XNUMXth century, with Hispanic settlers and, more recently, with Portuguese emigrants, customs and traditions well known in the Iberian Peninsula and, in particular, in northern Portugal, were consolidated in the Pueblos del Sur.
Reindeer Racing, Kings Cup, Inari, Finland
Inari, Finland

The Wackiest Race on the Top of the World

Finland's Lapps have been competing in the tow of their reindeer for centuries. In the final of the Kings Cup - Porokuninkuusajot - , they face each other at great speed, well above the Arctic Circle and well below zero.
Iguana in Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Yucatan, Mexico

The Sidereal Murphy's Law That Doomed the Dinosaurs

Scientists studying the crater caused by a meteorite impact 66 million years ago have come to a sweeping conclusion: it happened exactly over a section of the 13% of the Earth's surface susceptible to such devastation. It is a threshold zone on the Mexican Yucatan peninsula that a whim of the evolution of species allowed us to visit.
Cocoa, Chocolate, Sao Tome Principe, Agua Izé farm
São Tomé and Principe

Cocoa Roças, Corallo and the Chocolate Factory

At the beginning of the century. In the XNUMXth century, São Tomé and Príncipe generated more cocoa than any other territory. Thanks to the dedication of some entrepreneurs, production survives and the two islands taste like the best chocolate.
ice tunnel, black gold route, Valdez, Alaska, USA
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

Sensations vs Impressions

Boat on the Yellow River, Gansu, China
Bingling Yes, China

The Canyon of a Thousand Buddhas

For more than a millennium and at least seven dynasties, Chinese devotees have extolled their religious belief with the legacy of sculpture in a remote strait of the Yellow River. If you disembark in the Canyon of Thousand Buddhas, you may not find all the sculptures, but you will find a stunning Buddhist shrine.
Male Maldives

The Maldives For Real

Seen from the air, Malé, the capital of the Maldives, looks little more than a sample of a crammed island. Those who visit it will not find lying coconut trees, dream beaches, spas or infinite pools. Be dazzled by the genuine Maldivian everyday life that tourist brochures omit.
Geothermal, Iceland Heat, Ice Land, Geothermal, Blue Lagoon
Winter White

The Geothermal Coziness of the Ice Island

Most visitors value Iceland's volcanic scenery for its beauty. Icelanders also draw from them heat and energy crucial to the life they lead to the Arctic gates.
Baie d'Oro, Île des Pins, New Caledonia
Île-des-Pins, New Caledonia

The Island that Leaned against Paradise

In 1964, Katsura Morimura delighted the Japan with a turquoise novel set in Ouvéa. But the neighboring Île-des-Pins has taken over the title "The Nearest Island to Paradise" and thrills its visitors.
Crocodiles, Queensland Tropical Australia Wild
Cairns to Cape Tribulation, Australia

Tropical Queensland: An Australia Too Wild

Cyclones and floods are just the meteorological expression of Queensland's tropical harshness. When it's not the weather, it's the deadly fauna of the region that keeps its inhabitants on their toes.
Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Windward Side, Saba, Dutch Caribbean, Netherlands
Natural Parks
Saba, The Netherlands

The Mysterious Dutch Queen of Saba

With a mere 13km2, Saba goes unnoticed even by the most traveled. Little by little, above and below its countless slopes, we unveil this luxuriant Little Antille, tropical border, mountainous and volcanic roof of the shallowest european nation.
UNESCO World Heritage

icy blue planet

They form at high latitudes and/or altitudes. In Alaska or New Zealand, Argentina or Chile, rivers of ice are always stunning visions of an Earth as frigid as it is inhospitable.
View from the top of Mount Vaea and the tomb, Vailima village, Robert Louis Stevenson, Upolu, Samoa
Upolu, Samoa

Stevenson's Treasure Island

At age 30, the Scottish writer began looking for a place to save him from his cursed body. In Upolu and the Samoans, he found a welcoming refuge to which he gave his heart and soul.
Santa Marta, Tayrona, Simón Bolivar, Ecohabs of Tayrona National Park
Santa Marta and PN Tayrona, Colombia

The Paradise from which Simon Bolivar departed

At the gates of PN Tayrona, Santa Marta is the oldest continuously inhabited Hispanic city in Colombia. In it, Simón Bolívar began to become the only figure on the continent almost as revered as Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.
Peasant woman, Majuli, Assam, India
Majuli Island, India

An Island in Countdown

Majuli is the largest river island in India and would still be one of the largest on Earth were it not for the erosion of the river Bramaputra that has been making it diminish for centuries. If, as feared, it is submerged within twenty years, more than an island, a truly mystical cultural and landscape stronghold of the Subcontinent will disappear.
Train Kuranda train, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
On Rails
Cairns-Kuranda, Australia

Train to the Middle of the Jungle

Built out of Cairns to save miners isolated in the rainforest from starvation by flooding, the Kuranda Railway eventually became the livelihood of hundreds of alternative Aussies.
View of Fa Island, Tonga, Last Polynesian Monarchy
Tongatapu, Tonga

The Last Polynesian Monarchy

From New Zealand to Easter Island and Hawaii, no other monarchy has resisted the arrival of European discoverers and modernity. For Tonga, for several decades, the challenge was to resist the monarchy.
Daily life
Arduous Professions

the bread the devil kneaded

Work is essential to most lives. But, certain jobs impose a degree of effort, monotony or danger that only a few chosen ones can measure up to.
Asian buffalo herd, Maguri Beel, Assam, India
Maguri Bill, India

A Wetland in the Far East of India

The Maguri Bill occupies an amphibious area in the Assamese vicinity of the river Brahmaputra. It is praised as an incredible habitat especially for birds. When we navigate it in gondola mode, we are faced with much (but much) more life than just the asada.
Full Dog Mushing
Scenic Flights
Seward, Alaska

The Alaskan Dog Mushing Summer

It's almost 30 degrees and the glaciers are melting. In Alaska, entrepreneurs have little time to get rich. Until the end of August, dog mushing cannot stop.