It was not in the forecast. But It came anyway. The night crew abandoned the summit around 3am in the face of ice and snow.
Summit webcams show an increasingly white mountain this morning. Given the numbers in the met data, it is not going to stop anytime soon. Temperatures of well below freezing, -6°C (20°F) and 100% humidity tell the tale of continuing snow.
No sign that our holiday crew has made it to the summit as of yet. I expect them to make an attempt, even if they stay just an hour or two to perform those few tasks that must be done each day. Not much problem for me, a snowy weekend makes for a quiet weekend on-call.
The mountain claimed another vehicle this afternoon.
A rented Nissan Altima parked at the Hoku Kea telescope rolled off the ridge, a steep cinder slope about 400ft high. Fortunately neither passenger was hurt, the woman in the passenger seat exited the vehicle when it began rolling, her companion was already out. Witnesses describe the vehicle rolling several times as it descended the slope.
Now the Mauna Kea Rangers have the unenviable task of removing the vehicle and cleaning up the mess. The rangers report indicates that the vehicle does not appear to be leaking any fluids. Hopefully the vehicle can be removed without further damage to the summit. OMKM’s Natural Resources Manager and an entomologist are being consulted before removal.
Just another reminder to take our mountain seriously…
A line of big telescopes greeted the crowd. Mike had his 20″, Cliff his 24″, my 18″ Deep Violet, later in the evening Olivier set up his 18″ Priscilla. All of this large glass was open to the public, we each had long line of folks waiting a turn at the eyepiece. It was a huge Saturday night crowd, several hundred people awaited darkness. Yes, I had made the decision to observe from the VIS, knowing that there would be a crowd, but wow!Lots of folks wondered why there were so many telescopes. Over and over we explained that they were lucky, having chosen the right night to visit the mountain. A Saturday night close to the new moon, with local amateurs bringing their own telescopes to share.
Showpiece objects, the Andromeda Galaxy, The Pleiades and Jupiter were available for viewing. I was stuck on the Orion Nebula all evening long. I changed targets once, to meet a chorus of request to move back to the nebula. I have to admit it was a pretty view, even to me, who has seen this sight more times than I remember. I put the 35mm eyepiece in place, creating a bright low power view that had visitors waiting through line a few times for second and third looks.
In addition to the big dobs there were quite a few smaller ‘scopes present. Maureen had her C-11 setup, Larry brought his nice Stellarvue 102mm refractor, Mike had an 8″ SCT beside his 20″ for use by a friend. Dan didn’t bring a ‘scope, but he did bring pizza! We met Woody, an Alaskan Airlines pilot flying the Anchorage to Kona run. Out of a couple carry-on sized bags he produced more telescope than we would have thought fit in airline luggage…. A neat collapsible pier arrangement with an alt-az mount and a very nice WO 110mm APO.
Let me be quite clear… My idea of Super Sunday does not involve any sort of professional sporting event. This includes no television or funny commercials, no party, piles of chicken wings or large screen displays, and no halftime show.I joined the guys for some diving instead. My idea of a Super Sunday!
It was a pretty good day to go diving. The surf was a bit high, no problem as we would be diving from the boat. It was Dennis, Sky, Pete and myself, the usual crew. Dennis chose to head south of Kona, a good choice as we found nice conditions… Good vis and little surge. Going south also allowed us to do a little whale watching along the way. We encountered spinner dolphins just outside the marina, and again in front of Kailua Bay on the way back. Two humpbacks caught Dennis by surprise, surfacing right in front of the boat as we cruised south, giving us a great view as we waited for them to move away.