A Foggy Night at Kaʻohe

Foggy? Well? Mostly the skies were the beautiful dark Mauna Kea skies we enjoy. Mostly. The fog did flirt with us much of the night, rolling over hard for about half an hour, blotting out the stars for a while.

The Phelps family enjoys the skies at Kaʻohe
The Phelps family enjoys the skies at Kaʻohe

Despite a dire forecast for moisture on the mauna, the weather at Kaʻohe was quite nice aside from a bit of fog. The big telescopes atop the mauna were closed for much of the night in fog and even a little light snow, while we were enjoying the stars in the eyepiece.

There were ten folks who drove up the mauna to enjoy the night… Maureen, Cathy, Andrew, John, Cliff, and myself. Plus all four members of the Phelps family with their own telescope.

The view after sunset was stunning, Jupiter and Venus in a close pair over the summit of Hualālai deep in the bright zodiacal light. The Milky Way arched over the northern sky from Sagittarius to Cassiopeia.

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A Moonlit Night at Kaʻohe

It was Norman who started it.

The last glow of Sunset over Hualālai, with Venus just about to set behind the mauna and Jupiter high above.
The last glow of Sunset over Hualālai, with Venus just about to set behind the mauna and Jupiter high above.

An innocent email… Anyone interested in a star party this weekend?

Last weekend’s new Moon star party had been a bust, heavy clouds overhead were a disappointment to those of us waiting for a good dark night.

Given the positive response to Norman’s email there seems to be a few folks ready to go despite a bright Moon in the sky. With the weather looking good the Saturday afternoon email flurry showed that a few folks were going, thus I joined in.

As per Mauna Kea normal I drove through the clouds, heavy fog on Saddle Road just a mile from Kaʻohe made the trip seem hopeless. But as I neared the turn I suddenly found myself above the clouds, the bright Moon high over Hualalai.

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A Night Between Hurricanes at Kaʻohe

Our monthly dark skies star party had been originally planned for the night of July 27th, a few days before full Moon. With the governor’s emergency order all access to the mauna was closed, and the gals at the DLNR office let me know I could not get a permit. With that I put out a message I hate to post… Star party cancelled.

The NexStar 11 setup under the Milky Way at Kaʻohe
The NexStar 11 setup under the Milky Way at Kaʻohe, photo processed with Prisma

One week later and things look better, the emergency order has been rescinded and we again have access to the mauna, no problem getting our permit.

The problem this time looked to be weather, no big problem… Just a couple of hurricanes.

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A Crisp Night at Kaʻohe

I was a bit concerned as I drove to the site, a heavy fog all the way up Saddle Road persisted as I turned off on the old Saddle Road to climb the ridge to Kilohana. It was not until halfway up the gravel access road that I broke out of the fog, just a hundred yards before the Kaʻohe site.

The restored 8" f/6 Cave Astrola under a dark sky at Kaʻohe
The restored 8″ f/6 Cave Astrola under a dark sky at Kaʻohe

On top of the fog it was gorgeous, a beautifully clear sky overhead with the first stars peeking out. Time to setup a telescope!

I brought the restored 8″ Cave Astrola expecting to spend the evening exploring the clusters and nebulae of the southern Milky Way in Scorpio or a bit further south. This rich region would be well positioned through the night.

We had a small group this particular evening, just six of us… Andre and Anna, Maureen, Andrew, Cliff, and myself set up by the gravel pile. There were pleasant conversations in the night, cookies and brownies to share, and views through each other’s telescopes.

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Kaʻohe Observing

A nice night at Kaʻohe last night for the members of the West Hawaii Asrtonomy Club. As usual it was cloudy when we arrived, but cleared just after sunset leaving a very nice sky. While heavy dew shut most of us dawn after 11pm, we had several hours of very nice observing.

A Dark Night at Kaʻohe

A few months back I was reminded that I was remiss in scheduling proper club star parties. Thus I set about fixing that!

Telescope and Observing Table
A telescope and observing table in the dark at Kaʻohe
What about a site? The MKVIS at Hale Pōhaku is a total zoo lately, too many tourists, folks from the club are hesitant to go there for a good dark experience. it can also be cold and windy up there. Since Vaughn left the island a few months back, no one is using the old upper road site at Puʻu Kuainiho.

Thus I compromised at using my favorite site at Kaʻohe. At 5,800ft the site is lower, warmer, and less windy than the VIS. It also represents about half the drive time it takes to get to the VIS, without the tourist crowd. The site is higher and offers more reliable skies than the Puʻu Kuainiho site

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