Deep Impact Tour in Hawaii

As we approached the summit, we felt as if we had been driving on the surface of the Mars.
One of the holiest places in this world.
The Giant Telescopes are there to unveil the secret of the Universe.

July 2005

Visiting Subaru Telescope

Subaru Telescope

Subaru Dome                                                        Subaru Dome with a sea of cloud for a background

The bottom of the Telescope: Cassegrain focus with Cooled Mid Infrared Camera and Spectrometer (COMICS)

An astronomer guided us.                        Coronagraphic Imager with Adaptive Optics (CIAO)

Faint Object Camera And Spectrograph (FOCAS)        Primary Mirror "CO2 Cleaning" system

Other Telescopes

Please refer to
Summit map
Mauna Kea Telescopes
Aerial Tour of the Mauna Kea Observatories

From left to right: Keck II and Keck I, Subaru building, Subaru.

Left: From left to right: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), Gemini, University of Hawaii 2.2 m, United Kingdom Infra Red (UKIR, only the wall is seen)
Submillimeter Array (SAMA)

From left to right: (in the valley) Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO), James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT), Submillimeter Array (SAMA), (sky line) Subaru, Keck I, Keck II, NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF, silver) and S. Murakami.

Deep Impact Observation

In the evening of Saturday, July 2 (Hawaii Time), we enjoyed star watching at the Visitor Information Station (VIS) at the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy (OCIA), 9200 ft (2800 m). Many vehicles came in and went out there probably due to weekend, and the light of them were annoying.

The next day, the day of Impact, Sunday July 3, we went up to the parking lot of 1170 feet (3500 m). One reason was that it was drizzling at VIS and might not recover. Another was that VIS would be crowded with so many visitors. There came some vehicles with astronomers at the parking lot but it was much calmer than the previous day. A family who parked next to us was an professional astronomer in Gemini Telescope. He brought a Dobsonian telescope (some 8h) and he said he made it in his 16.

The parking lot of 1170 feet (3500 m) and our vehicle. We used 8h reflector (left, Vixen R200SS) and 5h refractor (right, BORG 125ED)

I had prepared for a star atlas to make the measurement of the comet brightness, however, as I did not intend to do so strongly before I left Japan. Instead, I wanted to spend time to enjoy star watching including Deep Impact.

The outline and the impression of Deep Impact Observation

Telescope: 8h reflector, 31x, 77x

2005 Jul 03.26-03.35 UT (Jul 2, 8:20pm-10:30pm Hawaii time)
The end of twilight: 8:30pm
Site: VIS at OCIA, Mauna Kea, 9200 ft (2800 m).
Naked eye limiting magnitude: 7.8
I observed the comet a few times during the observing session. DC=4

2005 Jul 04.24-04.35 UT (Jul 3, 7:45pm-10:20pm, Hawaii Time)
The end of twilight: 8:30pm
Site: parking lot of 1170 feet (3500 m)
Naked eye limiting magnitude: 7.5
I observed the comet several times during the observing session.@DC=6, m1 looked brighter at most 0.5 magnitude than that of the previous day.

General Observation

I could recognize spiral structure of M51, M101 and M83 with direct vision using 8h telescope. Those could be seen with averted vision under excellent transparency at my observing site in Japan.

I could observe neither the Snake Nebula in Ophiuchus (S-shaped dark line, Barnard 72) nor NGC 6822 in Sagittarius (an irregular member of our Local Galaxy Group and 2.2 million light years distance, 19fx15f) even with my 18h Dobsonian in my country. They were easily seen with 8h at Mauna Kea.

Generally, deep sky object images observed by 8h reflector in Mauna Kea were a little inferior to those of 18h at my usual observing site in Japan. As experienced, very faint objects, like Barnard 72 and NGC 6822, are not expected to be observed in Japan even if you employ large instruments.

Scintillation was very stable in Mauna Kea. After sunset I trained 5h refractor on Venus and Mercury. I could see apparent scintillation that caused by convection from heated ground surface. However, after the end of the twilight it was extremely stable. The image of Jupiter was very steady with 5h refractor with 200x and 343x.

About the roads to the summit

Please refer to the Big Island (Hawaii Island) map

We stayed in Kailua Kona and headed for Mauna Kea via Route 190, Route 200 (Sddle Road), Mauna Kea Observatories Access Road and John. A. Burns Way.

Route 190 is a usual road, but Route 200 is partly rough: a rental car is prohibited to drive this road except that of Harper Car and Truck Rental. I felt if you drive with care using Harperfs car it is no problem. Note that SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance) is not offered at all by Harper. To VIS you can drive with usual car but only 4WD car is permitted to dive up to the summit via John. A. Burns Way.

Route 190
Right: Route 200, the shoulder is rough and some drive at the center to avoid this: it causes a head-on collision.

Road near the summit (John. A. Burns Way). The road is paved near the summit, but halfway up to the VIS is dirt road.

Sight seeing

Route 11, to Volcano via lava flats.                         Entrance of the Lava Tube formed by volcanic activities at Volcano.

Halemaumau: a volcanic crater with diameter of 3000 ft (900 m).

Beach in front of the hotel in Kailua Kona                   Independence Day parade

Boarding Gate at Kona Air Port                               Boarding