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House of the Sun

Sun halo at the summit.

Haleakala means “House of the Sun” from a tale of the demigod Maui who lassoed the sun and got it to go slower across the sky. While at the summit of the mountain yesterday, I looked up to see a giant halo surrounding the sun, as it made its slow journey across the sky. High clouds in the atmosphere that contain ice crystals cause the light to be refracted and reflected to form a circle. This can happen with a bright moon also. I like the small figure walking towards the summit building.

In addition to the lei, Ranger Honeygirl gave me a bag of books about all aspects of the park. So, I have lots of homework to do. It’s great to learn the history and culture of the park. This will also help with knowing the names of the plants I photograph.

On to the night sky. The first couple of days have been spectacular at night, hard to beat the views. I’ve been scouting and checking out different overlooks, all seem very good. Saturday night I went to the Kalahaku Overlook at 9,324 feet which several rangers said was their favorite. I wanted to photograph the zodiacal light, a phenomenon of sunlight reflecting off dust particles along the plane of our solar system, and from our perspective, along the constellations of the zodiac. In February and March it appears in the west after sunset from dark locations. Looking west from Kalahaku down below was most of Maui, all lit up. Despite that, the pyramid shaped zodiacal light shone very brightly and you could see stars almost to the horizon. In the photo, clouds well below the summit reflect the city and town lights.

After a few hours of sleep, I went back up the mountain to Kalahaku and looked east this time to see the Milky Way rising around 3:00 am Sunday morning. It was quite bright to the eye and showed up incredibly well in photos. A beautiful orange crescent moon rose 5:00am, trailing three planets and the bright star Antares in Scorpius. It was truly a sight against the backdrop of our galaxy. I’ll include an annotated version to point out the various objects.

My homework.
Zodiacal light over Maui (pyramid of light at left).
View east from Kalahaku, just after 5 am.
Annotated version.
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