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July 19, 2012

By Rachel L. Smith

Research & Collections

Soon I will be venturing off for astronomical “field work”, which takes me to the beautiful island of Hawaii.

Many people, when they think of Hawaii, may envision beautiful beaches of sparkling sand; Hawaii boasts gorgeous beaches of sparkling white, black, grey, red, or even green sand, with colors reflection the various minerals of the region. Or, they may think of the amazing sea life in the reefs surrounding the Hawaiian islands, where fishes of seemingly almost any color and wandering sea turtles can be seen simply by putting your head in the water.

Astronomers often think not (only) of these oceanic pleasures, but rather of the mountain called Mauna Kea, where some of the world’s most state-of-the-art ground-based astronomical observatories reside.

Mauna Kea, or “white mountain”, stands at nearly 14,000 feet above sea level, making it the highest point in Hawaii. However, Mauna Kea also exceeds 33,000 feet from…

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