Today was my first visit to Haleakala Observatory, formerly also referred to as “Science City”, located in a moon-like landscape at an altitude of 3055 meters. Driving up only 36 miles from Kahului (at sea level…), one passes as many ecosystems as driving from Alaska to Mexico.
This is mighty Haleakala, on top of which the observatory is located at 3055 meters above sea level… „Haleakala“ means „House of the sun“ – a massive dormant volcano that forms more than 75 % of the island. According to Native Hawaiian culture, the mountain was home to the grandmother of the demigod Maui, who gave the island its name. According to the legend, Māui’s grandmother helped him capture the sun and force it to slow its journey across the sky in order to lengthen the day.
I arrived in Maui late last night (it’s a 6-hour flight from L.A.). So yesterday was a travel-day… Just as it soon will be for these telescope-parts in today’s post – all packed-up and ready to be shipped to LCOGT’s newest telescope-site in Tibet. „Asia is normally not ideal for astronomical observations, as the continent is rather humid and moist, there is a lot of rain, the monsoon“, says Mr. Wayne Rosing, the founder of LCOGT. One of the few suitable locations for astronomical observatories in Asia is ALI-Observatory in Western Tibet, where LCOGT are hoping to deploy a 1-meter-telescope in 2017.
Before heading out to Maui tomorrow, I spent another day at the LCOGT-headquarters today. LCOGT is the hub – over 40 scientists and engineers run the telescope-network from here. Also, the telescope-parts (which are being constructed and tested in the in-house workshop), ship out to the various sites from here.
BACK ON THE ROAD
The „deep dark pale blue“-project continues! After having completed my coverage of observatories on the Southern hemisphere last November, I just started my next project-journey taking me to California and Hawaii. Right now, I am in Goleta, California (about two hours north of L.A.), where the headquarters of LCOGT are located. This is where the threads run together… And it is where the telescopes are being constructed, as you can see in the first blog-image of this journey. I will be here until Saturday – then off to Maui. From Maui, I will post images and stories on a regular basis!