Science City

Haleakalā National Park

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 The website contains fascinating videos of past lectures.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Haleakalā National Park attractions

1. Puʻuʻulaʻula (Red Hill) Overlook

0.29 MILES

You may find yourself standing above the clouds while exploring Puʻuʻulaʻula (10,023ft), Maui’s highest point. The summit building provides a top-of-the…

2. Magnetic Peak


The iron-rich cinders in this flat-top hill, which lies immediately southeast of the summit building (in the direction of Hawaiʻi, the Big Island), pack…

3. Haleakalā Summit Area

0.68 MILES

Perched on the crater rim at 9745ft, the visitor center is the park’s main viewing spot. Sun, shadow and clouds reflecting on the crater floor create a…

4. Kalahaku Overlook

2.48 MILES

Don’t miss this one. Kalahaku Overlook (9324ft), 0.8 miles beyond Leleiwi Overlook, offers a bird’s-eye view of the crater floor and the ant-size hikers…

5. Haleakalā National Park

2.65 MILES

No trip to Maui is complete without visiting this national park containing the mighty volcano that gave rise to East Maui. The volcano's floor measures a…

6. Leleiwi Overlook

3.03 MILES

For your first jaw-dropping look into the crater and its cinder cones, stop at Leleiwi Overlook (8840ft), midway between the Park Headquarters Visitor…

7. Pele’s Paint Pot Lookout

3.89 MILES

Along the loop trail south of Kawilinau, and accessible via Halemauʻu Trail and Keoneheʻeheʻe (Sliding Sands) Trail, this is the crater’s most brilliant…

8. Kawilinau


Legend says that the pit leads down to the sea, though the National Park Service says it’s just 65ft deep.