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Hawaii News

Snapshot from Mauna Kea captures starry light show

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COURTESY W.M. KECK OBSERVATORY
Courtesy W.M. Keck Observatory Not only is it possible to see lasers coming from the Subaru telescope, left, and the domed Keck telescopes at the summit of Mauna Kea, also visible are star trails and light pollution from as far away as Honolulu.

A stunning time-lapse photograph, taken at the summit of Mauna Kea Thursday night, shows the circular sweep of the stars as the Earth rotates eastward on its axis — as well as light from as far away as Honolulu.

W.M. Keck Observatory staffer Andrew Cooper took the shot, facing northwest toward the Subaru Telescope and the Keck I and Keck II domes, which are shining lasers that look like searchlights in the crystal clear sky.

The lasers help the observatories correct for atmospheric distortion.

At 13,796 feet in altitude and generally dry, Mauna Kea is already one of the premier spots in the world for astronomy, but light pollution remains a concern.

Visible in the shot are Kailua-Kona to the left and Honolulu behind the center telescope. Haleakala on Maui is at right.

The river of light in the lower right is from a car traveling along one of the summit roads.

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