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Astrophotography in Hawaii

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I recently got married and the upside ( ;) ) to that is I get to go to Hawaii for part of the honeymoon! So I'm already planning ahead and looking at taking advantage of some of the best dark skies in the world. Looking for some advice on two aspects:

 

 

Location/ Tours/ Advice

I'll only have one or two nights where I'll have the opportunity to image so I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on a good spot. The obvious choice would be Mauna Kea but in the brief reading I done it seems like it may not be the best. The only place you can set up your own scope is at the visitors centre and then only on certain nights. Plus apparently it can be overrun with tourists too. I was initially interested in one of the tours but they are around ~$250 and I wouldn't be able to image on my own scope. From the light pollution map it seems the west coast (where I'll be staying) has class 1 skies anyway. So would I miss out on anything by not going up Mauna Kea? Anyone have any experience or advice here?

 

Equipment

I need to travel light so I'm planning on taking my StarAdventurer with SharpStar 60ED and Samyang lenses. However, I'm not sure what to do regarding a camera. Should I just take my stock DSLR or should I take my ZWO ASI1600 and filter wheel? Can you even take a power source on a plane?  I guess that would be the limiting factor if I were to take the ZWO.  Hopefully some of the people who image when they travel can let me know what they do?

 

I've only ever had the pleasure of gazing up on class 1 skies once before and that when I was on a field trip to Ardnamurchan, Scotland when I was studying. Actually, that's when I first really took an interest in astronomy. I want to make sure I make full use of them this time as who know when I'll get that chance again!

 

Oh and any other advice on day trips or any other activities while I'm there would be good. I'll have two nights in Honolulu and 3-4 nights on the big island.

 

Cheers

Chris

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Hi Chris,

Lucky you, Hawaii is on my wish list. I guess a lot of it is down to personal preference, but where wide-band can work well is at dark sky locations. I like keeping things simple when I travel, so normally stick to a DSLR and often don't even take a laptop, just an intervalometer. I found that my StarAdventurer couldn't cope well with 200mm+ focal lengths unguided, but I guess you must have tested your setup.

Re imaging at high altitudes, after trying it, I decided to stick to 'base camp', however my attempt was in the 'winter':

 

Enjoy!

 

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That was a good read and some cracking images there! 

 

Well I’ve not actually tested the SharpStar on the StarAdventurer but I have comfortably got 90sec subs unguided with a 300mm Nikon so hoping for similar results with the SharpStar. Anyway I’ll have the 14mm and 135mm Samyang’s too and as you say perhaps that’s the best place to get truly widefield shots. 

 

I will definitely learn from your experience and test everything before I go!

 

Thanks 😊

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I understand that Hawaii has an inversion layer, cloud/rain above which the observatories are located.  Others may have more info. on this.  You may need to go above it for clear skies.

 

Paul

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Yes, I had a read about it and cloud cover can be a problem at lower levels particularly in the south and east. The NW coasts and inland seem to be the best according to this figure but still have cloud cover 30-40% of the year. That’s still better than where I am now though 😂 

 

Apparently it’s <10% chance of cloud above the inversion layer. 

7B5E16A0-1D9B-44F9-B78C-F660629B91C3.jpeg

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I have done the Mauna Kea tour as part of my honeymoon (30 years after getting married!). It was before I really got into astronomy on a practical level so I was not really that educated. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The trip consisted of off road minibus pick up in Hilo followed by the drive to the visitor centre (through the cloud layer so thick that I was surprised the driver could see where he was going. Stop off at the visitor centre/ shop/ cafe including a peek through a couple of solar scopes set up outside, then the drive to the observatory level itself. After experiencing sunset from the obsy level, back to the bus for a drive down the mountai to a level where we stopped and got out for a stargazing/ education session.

Even without my interest in astronomy, the trip would have been worth it just for the view from the summit. Watching the shadow of the volcano creep along the cloud tops as the sun lowered was magical. Seeing the glow from the lava lake in the active Mauna Loa through the clouds was quite something as well.

Don't write off the field trip just yet Chris!

Mrs Swoop 1 enjoying the trip-

DSC04241.jpg.f44cca1b7193f181bdb397458df4b837.jpg

I wish this was sunset over my back garden!

DSC04251.jpg.6131128920e9012f0f693891d83f2681.jpg

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Thanks, looks stunning!  I work as a geologist so it’s two birds with one stone I guess 👍🏻

 

Either way way it will be the trip of a lifetime!

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Recently, the volcano has been quite active, with roads being overcome by lava. As a geologist, I should imagine seeing rock in it's liquid form is quite  thrill?

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10 hours ago, Swoop1 said:

Recently, the volcano has been quite active, with roads being overcome by lava. As a geologist, I should imagine seeing rock in it's liquid form is quite  thrill?

Yes, it would be something else! The closest I have been to an active volcano was viewing Etna from some miles away spewing ash. 

 

My wife will be thrilled when she hears what I have planned. Stars and lava 😆

  • Haha 2

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