As the sun rises, this collection of domed observatories shimmers just beyond the summit. Nicknamed Science City, this area is, unfortunately, off-limits to visitors, as it houses some very expensive equipment, including a telescope that can track objects the size of a basketball from 20,000 miles away. It's used for studying the sun and outer space.
Pan-STARRS surveys the heavens for earth-approaching objects, both asteroids and comets, that might pose a danger to our planet. It is the most powerful survey system in the world in terms of combined field of view, resolution and sensitivity. The super-duper Air Force’s Ground-Based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance system performs a similar function, and the even more impressive Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope is now under construction. When complete it will be the world’s most powerful solar telescope.
The Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaiʻi holds free monthly public talks at its office in Pukalani. For more information, see www.ifa.hawaii.edu/haleakalanew. The website contains fascinating videos of past lectures.