THOUSANDS OF MILES FROM ANY CONTINENT, YOU CAN SEE DAZZLING NIGHT SKIES
AT MAUNA KEA
High up on Mauna Kea and thousands of miles from the light pollution of the worlds’ major cities, you can see the most brilliant night skies. This is why researchers from around the world have located their famous, world-class observatories on Mauna Kea’s summit.
The whole family can learn about astronomy at the Visitor Information Station. Each night, interpreters focus telescopes on interesting features, including planets and nebulae. They also give tours of the night sky and tell stories about the season’s constellations.
Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in Hawaii (and the tallest in the world if you measure from the bottom of the ocean!), so make sure to check the weather before you drive up and dress warmly. It often gets down to freezing temperatures and can even snow on the mountain!
TAKE A TOUR OF THE CLEAR NIGHT SKY AT THE MAUNA KEA TELESCOPES!
The Visitor Information Station sits at 9,200 ft above sea level and is open 9 am to 10 pm, 365 days per year. There, guests can view planets and stars through telescopes and learn about the night sky from interpretive guides and rangers. We have learned how to find different constellations in the night sky, looked at Saturn’s rings through the telescope, and learned about a far away nebula where stars are born! The best part is that every visit is different depending on what is visible in the sky each month. For the darkest skies and best viewing, go up on a clear night within a few days of the New Moon.
The Visitor Information Station also sells merchandise – including books, snacks and hot beverages. Dress warm, as it can be far colder up on Mauna Kea than you would expect for Hawaii, often getting down to freezing temperatures!
The summit is a spectacular place to watch the sunset! If you can rent a 4WD vehicle, you can drive to the summit and see amazing views while surrounded by world-class research observatories. Due to the high elevation and possibility of altitude sickness, make sure to be careful. It may be best to stay at the Visitor Information Station if you have children or people with health concerns in your party.
You can reach the Visitor Information Station and observatories on Mauna Kea by driving up Saddle Road, and taking a left at the top of the saddle for Mauna Kea Access Road, to go up the mountain to the Visitor Information Station. For more information and to check road conditions, check out the Visitor Information Station’s website.