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“Seeing the stars”
Review of Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea
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Hawaii Birdwatching Small Group Adventure Tour
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Kilauea Hike and Glow from Kona
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Circle Big Island Mercedes 11 PSGR Tour
Certificate of Excellence
Salem, MA
Level 5 Contributor
89 reviews
56 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“Seeing the stars”
Reviewed September 28, 2012

We drove to the Onizuka Observatory for the sundown star talk. The ride up was interesting as you pass thru a dense cloud belt. A very knowledgeable man provided the star talk. there were about 8 powerful telescopes centered on various stars/galaxies.

(Hint) If you can plan it, go on a "new moon" night when the sky is at its darkest and the stars are at their brightest.

Visited September 2012
4 Thank readspeak
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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236 reviews from our community

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Green Bay Wisconsin
Level 6 Contributor
270 reviews
96 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 111 helpful votes
“A highlight of our trip to the Big Island”
Reviewed September 24, 2012

We arrived at the Mauna Kea Visitor's Center late morning and had a picnic lunch at the tables behind the center.
Next we went into the fenced-in area right behind the center to see the Silversword plants growing there. When the sun shines on them, they look like they are made of silver.
At 1:00 we went into the Visitor's Center and watched a movie on the 13 telescopes on Mauna Kea. Then we got into a caravan with 7 other 4-wheel drive vehicles and drove to the Summit.
Our guides, Cliff and Joe, were full of information about Mauna Kea, and gave us guidelines on how to stay healthy while at 14,000 feet.
We were thrilled to be able to go into the Keck Observatory, and saw the scope being turned and adjusted.
The guides then explained each of the 13 telescopes, who built them, what they do, and gave us a lot of information.
The guidebook available back at the Visitor Center Gift Shop was also helpful.

Visited September 2012
4 Thank HawaiiAloha777
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Phenomenal nighttime views”
Reviewed September 16, 2012

Visited on a clear night with a new moon. Saw Saturn, cloud nebula, andromeda galaxy, Mars, international space station, red stars, blue stars, summer arm of milky way, etc. from visitor's center. Local astronomy group was there, explained what we were seeing through telescopes, used super powerful laser pointers to help us see what they were talking about. Listened to 'star talk' by enthusiastic local astronomer. One of the best places in the world to study and view the sky. Simply unforgettable. Dress warmly. If arriving after dark, be aware of where your headlights are pointing (the brightness is harsh for those whose eyes have adjusted to the dark!) Hot water available--bring hot chocolate, tea, coffee or buy packets at visitor's center. Special presentations/performances the third Saturday of the month. Definitely go if you have the opportunity!

Visited September 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
Level 4 Contributor
46 reviews
38 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Hawaii forest and trail company rocks!!!”
Reviewed September 1, 2012

aloha from Kona Hawaii! I wanted to go see the sunset and the stars at night from the top of the 14,000ft volcano on Big island...A.k.A- Mauna Kea!.... but I found outfrom the nice concierge in the royal kona hotel lobby that you can't drive your rental car to the top..they stop you at 9,000ft due to rough roads an no rental car has 4x4 :-( but Im glad they told me about HAWAII FOREST AND TRAIL tour company....they were amazing...the drive is a little scary since your going up this super steep volcano...---so glad we didnt have to drive!!! They fed us great food and even hot coco an brownies later on! They even had a veggie option!!!
So this tour is all about the view from the tippy-top of the 14,oooft volcano..you can see Maui from up there .and you can stand right next to the fancy huge telescopes and get the best sunset views!!!! It is cold up there but the tour driver gave us all big warm coats and gloves..which i loved!!! After the sunset we checked out the stars through a big telescope that the driver sets up ..I saw the rings around saturn!!!!! Super amazing and breathtaking...if you want to learn about starts an get the best sunset view..take this tour--dont drive..cant see as much if you drive as you can with the tour!!!!
i love hawaii!!!

Visited August 2012
2 Thank gedayloo1234
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Enterprise, FL
Level 5 Contributor
74 reviews
35 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
“The stargazing could be managed better!”
Reviewed July 3, 2012

There aren't many places on earth as accessible as the Mauna Kea Visitors Center that offer guided star tours above 9000'. In fact, I'm at a loss to think of one. Why then, for the love of God, would you hold these events in a parking lot with cars driving in and out with their lights on. Even at 9000' your eyes can only appreciate the contrast of an inky black sky against the whitewash of stars in the Milky Way when they are fully dark adapted. This adaptation takes about 20 minutes of darkness to achieve and only one second of exposure to headlights to destroy. There is no way anyone on this night got dark adapted so they might as well have been viewing from their own backyard. And the solution is so simple: have cars park at the level below the Vis and have people walk a very short distance up the hill with instructions to keep their flashlights, IPhones, IPads, Blackberries, Gameboys and every other kind of bloody electronic devices either turned off or turned down to the ground so as not to shine in the faces of people looking to see the stars!!! Is that so difficult? Provide a simple roll of red taillight tape for people to place a piece over their lighted devices that they can't seem to live without for even five minutes. Ok, I get that not everyone takes stargazing as seriously as I do. You may not appreciate books as much as I do but you still keep your voice down in a library, don't you? You remember libraries...big building, lots of books. It's where you rent videos. Anyway that's why I've given this magnificent experience only an average rating. I hope the good, decent, patient and learned docents who volunteer their time to run this activity will read this and respond.

Visited June 2012
14 Thank M102Enterprise_FL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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