The Oregon Star Party
Rises to New Heights!
The GEMINI NORTH
dome of Mauna Kea's 8.1 meter telescope rises in a landscape so
vast and other-worldly that it's difficult to place it into a
normal context. ..........Here I've fancifully pasted in 200 astronomers
from my 1993 Group Photograph of the Oregon Star Party---- the
dome isn't quite as large as I've portrayed it in this fancy,
but is HUGE by any measure. Up here at nearly 14,000 tropical
feet, it's nearly always a great sub-arc second night coming up!
Due to a trade winds effect, the clouds are nearly always below
you, leaving the summit area usually clear and in fact an actual
desert in terms of precipitation. Jan Kieski and Leo C., her companion
from Argentina, are dreaming about one of those sub-arc second
nights, as they stand on top of Mauna Kea, for real, in 2017,
shortly after our 2017 OSP event!
piece of Hawaiian history:
The famed pioneer
botanist David Douglas, for whom the Douglas Fir tree is named,
climbed Mauna Kea in the early 1830s. He was a Scotsman, and brought
with him his famous vigor and scientific attitude. It was he who
first measured the mountain's height in a correct range, stating
it was 13,000 feet high, and not the 18,000 feet being ascribed
to it at the time.... in a sad footnote, Mr. Douglas suffered
a violent end in 1834 while on a solo collecting trip within 20
or 30 miles of the spot pictured above. His remains were removed
to Oahu, and he is buried in Honolulu. An investigation into the
cause of his death went on for over forty years. Suspicions centered
around a robbery for his purse, but nothing could ever be proven
as the prime suspect had vanished and was never located.
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