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October 2000
<Observatories at the summit of Mauna Kea and starry skies>

Orion and the Pleiades (called "Subaru" in Japanese) are beautiful objects in October skies. Since they have been often presented on my web pages in the past, they need no particular mention here. Instead, a photo of Subaru Observatory is shown here.

When I reached the summit of Mauna Kea in mid-August, that night was as cold as mid-winter. Looking in the northwest from the 4200-meter-high summit, I was able to see the stars shining as strongly and brightly above observatories as you would not be able to experience at the sea level. From left to right in the photograph, you can see Subaru Observatory, a sea of clouds beyond Keck 1 (with a red light) and Keck 2 domes, and Haleakala volcano (3055m) on the Island of Maui behind it. And a lonely white light is seen at the summit. The fourth star from Alpha in the Big Dipper in Ursa Major is sinking to the right of the observatories. At the summit of Mauna Kea so many stars were visible to the naked eye. I believe this was a once-in-a-life time experience. The Milky Way as bright as full moon was also an unforgettable sight.

In the 1950s Mrkos was engaged in comet hunting at a 2600m-high meteorological station in the Tatla mountains in Czech Republic. He must have been seeking comets while thoroughly enjoying the beautiful starry skies in the mountains of Northern Europe. The skies over Mauna kea were awesome and so transparent that any discovery seemed possible that night. It was a miracle that I was able to stand at the summit of Mauna Kea on a night like this. This experience will be written later in my collection of essays entitled "The non-fiction theatre: My 50 years with comets."

At the summit of Mauna Kea
9 pm August 19, 2000
50mm f/1.4 ISO 400 film
5-minute exposure

Copyright (C) 2000 Tsutomu Seki.