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Big Island for 25 hours astrophotography advise
  
 
MDBarrett
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Big Island for 25 hours astrophotography advise


Hello all.

I will be landing in Kona towards the middle of next month (August) and have always wanted to visit the observatory and try to get some great astrophotography images. I live in Alaska so I have been dying to see the dark sky and stars since May. Has anyone been there and have any advise as to getting up there and if driving all the way to the top instead of stopping at the visitor center would be worth it? My goals are to walk away with both milky way images and try to get some individual planet or nebula images since I will be at one of the best places for night sky viewing in the world.

Any advise would be greatly appreciated and thank you in advance! I will be brining along my iOptron Skytracker since it has been collecting dust since May.

Mike



Jul 10, 2014 at 03:31 AM
NCAndy
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Big Island for 25 hours astrophotography advise


I was just there. We stopped at the Mauna Kea Visitor Info Center. They recommend 4wd to go beyond that point and we didn't check the road out to see how good it actually was. I can tell you the sky was plenty good at the VC. It was very cool to see the Southern Cross and Polaris in the sky at the same time, both on the horizon. That said, I would think the top of the mountain could be even better if you can get there. BTW, it was raining coming up from Hilo but the VC was above all the weather.

I also went to Hawaii Volcanoes NP and took photos at Kilauea Crater at night. We had a clearing sky and the stars were fantastic.



Jul 10, 2014 at 07:34 PM
MDBarrett
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Big Island for 25 hours astrophotography advise


Thanks, I am looking forward to getting up there. I may look into renting a 4 wheel drive just to get up there but I hear it is paved and not necessary?


Jul 12, 2014 at 04:41 PM
NCAndy
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Big Island for 25 hours astrophotography advise


MDBarrett wrote:
Thanks, I am looking forward to getting up there. I may look into renting a 4 wheel drive just to get up there but I hear it is paved and not necessary?


Not sure. We didn't try, but my impression was it was gravel. Don't really know though.



Jul 13, 2014 at 05:59 PM
pliukait
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Big Island for 25 hours astrophotography advise


Was at Mauna Kea last year, past the Visitor Centre, it is a gravel road, actually more like crushed rocks. Going uphill probably you could get by with not using 4WD, but going downhill, it definitely helps. It's very steep in places.

Contact aFeinberg, http://www.afeinbergphotography.com/contact/
He does workshops up there.

Regards.....Pete



Jul 13, 2014 at 10:26 PM
 

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DLP
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Big Island for 25 hours astrophotography advise


Aaron is a great photographer and I'd second the suggestion to contact him although AFAIK he is located on Kuai. Tom Kuali and/or Bruce Omari would be great contacts as well and having some one that's driven that stretch and is familiar with the area in the dark is worth the $$$. It's a very extreme environment.
http://extremeexposure.com/services/

You will need 4x4 for going past the visitor center. If you intend to drive past the visitor center pay close attention to your vehicle rental agreement so at least you know where you stand.
Enjoy your trip. The Big Island is pretty much a photographers paradise.

Dave



Jul 17, 2014 at 12:38 PM
Soul_Rebel_TO
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Big Island for 25 hours astrophotography advise


Hi MDBarrett,

I hope that I'm not too late...I envy you!

I was there this past June. It was amazing going up Mauna Kea and seeing all the stars given that I am downtown Toronto and barely see anything in the sky with all the light pollution.

My advice:

1. When travelling up Mauna Kea - there is a section in between the visitors center and the summit that is unpaved, this is important because all rental car agreements (except for one) that I know of specifically prohibit driving on unpaved roads. Sure you can take a rental car there but if anything happens, you wont be covered by any purchased insurance or your credit card insurance as you would be violating the rental agreement

2. It is a steep climb up the mountain - a normal 2WD car will probably be able to make it up but not on the way down constant use of the brakes will cause them to fail. You will definitely need a 4WD.

3. All this leads to one point - Harper Car & Truck Rental is the only company that has filled that market gap to my knowledge. They will gladly rent you a 4WD for the day for your trip to Mauna Kea for $$. Keep in mind, they are very through. They'll have a thorough examination of the vehicle and take photos of the vehicle including under neath (be careful with it)! They will also teach you how to engage the 4WD for your trip up and down Mauna Kea.

4. Mauna Kea is 13.8K feet above sea level meaning:

a) The air is thinner with lower levels of oxygen (about 40%). Don't risk it if you have breathing problems, pregnant, have heart problems or going suba diving up to a few days after! Arrive a bit early to the to give yourself about an hour an half to acclimatize at the visitors center - use the washroom and get some food. Don't over exert yourself - if you feel faint and/or short of breath , have blurred vision come down the mountain asap

b) Engage the 4WD and use a low gear when leaving the visitors center and take your time going up and coming down

c) It gets cold fast! Depending on how you stay there - dress very warmly (like you would in winter) don't forget the gloves

I gotta run for now but if you have any questions just PM me!

The road up Mauna Kea by Mikey O., on Flickr

View Mauna Kea visitors center by Mikey O., on Flickr

Mauna Kea by Mikey O., on Flickr

Mauna Kea - Hawaii by Mikey O., on Flickr





Jul 21, 2014 at 02:01 AM
MDBarrett
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Big Island for 25 hours astrophotography advise


Wow, great advise and thank you for all of the tips! I am not going to be there till August 15th for the night so any advise is still welcome and invited.

Thanks,

Mike



Jul 22, 2014 at 06:07 AM
Michael H
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Big Island for 25 hours astrophotography advise


I was there recently as well, and it was my impression that you could not simply drive up there on your own. I could easily be mistaken on this but that's how I understood it. There are however guided treks up there where you follow the rangers in with your own 4x4 after a safety brief.

I only went as high as the visitor center and found that to be pretty incredible. I'd love to get up to the top sometime but I didn't feel like I really missed anything.

I'd go up there warmly dressed as late as possible. The visitor center is pretty busy from dark until 9:30 or 10. After that, you'll have very little company or distraction from the car headlights.

When you walk to the store and the telescopes setup for viewing, go on past that. There are a bunch of picnic tables over there that you can hang out on and get some shots.

Enjoy and don't forget your coat! It's cold up there!! It was around 38 degrees/f on my last trek up.



Jul 23, 2014 at 01:24 AM
skycinema
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Big Island for 25 hours astrophotography advise


Having been there twice and hiked from the VC to the summit both times, I highly recommend driving. 2wd vehicle can make it, don't be scared. The only worry should be traveling up too fast for your body to adjust to the thin air (getting the bends). If you drive down, put the car in the lowest gear possible and use the turnouts to cool the brakes down if needed. Have fun!


Aug 08, 2014 at 06:10 AM





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