Thursday, 12 December 2013

The DRIVE to the top (13803 ft / 4207 m on Day 8)

NOT my pic

I'm pretty sure that I've never in my life been this high above sea level. But I'm prepared. I have 2 cameras with almost empty memory chips and I have 2 batteries for one of them.  Where is my oxygen mask?  Where is my hot chocolate?  It is -1 C up here with a 30 km/h wind. I can't believe I escaped to a tropical paradise and then paid money to freeze my Axx off again!
 Its REALLY cold here! No wonder: I am higher than the peak of Mount Robson (3954 m).  Just how did I get here ?

Gemini North (Not my picture)
Well, having earned an M.Sc. in Astronomy all those years ago, contributed some of the incentive.  While the CFHT (Canada France Hawaii Telescope) was already operating on Mauna Kea, I remember members of the faculty promoting and trying to secure funding for something called the Gemini Telescopes. In my university days these telescopes were in the planning stages, but a brief internet search today revealed that one saw first light Mauna Kea in the year 2000. (I'm old ! ;-)

The proposed 30 m telescope (TMT; not my picture)
The diameter of mirror of the Gemini telescopes (the 2nd one is situated in Chile) is 8.2 metres. There is a proposal to build a 30 meter diameter telescope on Mauna Kea,which is receiving opposition from ethnic, environmental, and tourist industry groups.

The construction site would be comparable to the one at Giza about 4600 years ago. But while in Giza the materials had to be shipped to a construction site 10 kms from the Nile, on Mauna Kea, the construction materials would have to be transported to an elevation above sea level of 4200 meters !

But let's start at the beginning.  A wee (but 4x4) bus picks me up at 'Buns in the Sun Bakery' in Kona.

Look for the continuation in "The View from the top" following soon

(you don't want to miss all this, do you? )
Gorgeous Vistas


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