Stargazing at the top of the world
The view is spectacular from the 14,000 ft. (4,200 meter) summit of Mauna Kea, on the island of Hawaii. Seen here is the Canada-France-Hawaii Observatory, housing a 3.6 meter optical telescope. There are 12 other telescopes nearby, owned by different countries and academic institutions.
The summit of Mauna Kea is well above a dramatic looking inversion layer of clouds, which keeps the moist marine air below. It is so dry here that my kite fabric had shrunk, making the kite tight as a drum when I inserted its frame. This is the perfect environment for astronomy, but a bit tricky for flying kites. Though it felt like there was a decent breeze, with the significant reduction in atmosphere here at this altitude, my 8 foot kite could barely lift my lightweight camera rig.
I was a bit worried about how my body would react to this extreme altitude. The lack of oxygen was readily apparent, but I'm happy to report that I experienced no discomfort or problems of any kind.
Many thanks to Tom Benedict, a fellow kite aerial photographer who works at this telescope, for bringing my family, friends, and I up here to visit this incredible place.
Taken by a camera lofted by a kite.
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