As the sun rises, this collection of domed observatories shimmers just beyond the summit. Nicknamed Science City and managed by the University of Hawaiʻi, this area is unfortunately off-limits to visitors, as it houses some very interesting equipment – much of it 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 Air Force’s Ground-Based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance system performs a similar function. It is capable of identifying a basketball-size object 22,000 miles away. After years of delay, the Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope is now under construction. When complete it will be the world’s most powerful solar telescope. Operations are expected to begin in 2019.

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.