Very Long Baseline Array on Mauna Kea

The very long baseline array on Mauna Kea is one of the ten radio telescopes that make up the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA)Most of the telescopes on Mauna Kea are clustered together near the summit, but about halfway between the Mauna Kea Visitor Center and the summit is this lonely telescope. It’s one of the ten radio telescopes that make up the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), which began operating in 1993. Eight of the other telescopes are scattered around the U.S. mainland with the tenth at St. Croix in the Virgin Islands.

The Mauna Kea telescope, like the others, consists of a dish antenna 82 feet in diameter, and an unmanned control building. These ten telescopes are remotely operated from the Domenici Science Operations Center in Socorro, New Mexico.

For more information about the Very Long Baseline Array, go to https://public.lbo.us/.

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Whitebar surgeonfish

Whitebar surgeonfish swim in the waters off the Big Island of Hawaii.Whitebar surgeonfish swim in the waters off the Big Island of Hawaii.

Whitebar surgeonfish are one of the staple reef fish. They’re regularly seen close to shore, often in large shoals. Other reef fish will often join the crowd, such as the yellow tang in the photo to the left.

Horses and turbines

This pair of horses stood motionless for a long time while the turbines of Hawi Wind Farm whirled in the background.

This pair of horses stood motionless for a long time while the turbines of Hawi Wind Farm whirled in the background. Don’t know what they were waiting for.

Reach for the sky

Coconut palms stretch upward to the blue Hawaiian sky.

Coconut palms stretch upward to the blue Hawaiian sky.

 

Old Saddle Road

Old Saddle Road on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Saddle Road was first established during World War II as a rough and ready route for military vehicles to traverse the Big Island. After the war, the road was handed over to civilian authorities. The road got paved after a fashion, but it was never upgraded or maintained to normal civilian standards. Consequently, the two-lane highway was rife with poor paving, potholes, crumbling shoulders, sharp bends, and one lane bridges. Add to this that the upper parts of the road are often cloaked in thick cloud with minimal visibility and it’s no surprise to learn it was considered one of the most dangerous paved roads in the state. Until quite recently rental car companies wouldn’t allow their customers to drive the road.

A little more than 10 years ago, significant upgrading of the highway began. Since then, sections have been realigned, repaved, or newly constructed altogether. In 2013, this new, improved road was connected with Māmalahoa Highway on the western side. Later this year, the last new stretch on the eastern side should be completed.

In 2013, the highway was renamed the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, honoring the longtime senator from Hawaii, but it’s still referred to as Saddle Road by most people. And on the western side, around milepost 44, the old Saddle Road veers off to the north from the new highway, up this hill with its flat spots for the one-lane bridges. This part of the old road was repaved a few years back, but the eastern end is very much in the tradition of the old road. Pockmarked with ill-matching layers of asphalt, it’s a bumpy ride. There are several places where I’ve been unwise enough to pull to the side only to clunk through a deep gulley running beside the pavement.

So, considering all this, it should come as no surprise to hear that it’s one of my favorite stretches of road to drive on the island. The curves, the ups and downs are fun – when the weather’s good. It passes through beautiful pastureland. And it’s a great place to see pueos, the endemic Hawaiian short-eared owl, cruising over the fields, sitting on a post, and, wisely, staying out of traffic.

Abstracts: Yellow-spotted Amazon river turtles

This pair of yellow-spotted Amazon river turtles were waiting for something at Pana‘ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens

This pair of yellow-spotted Amazon river turtles were waiting for something at Pana‘ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens. Perhaps they were plotting a breakout, figuring out how to cut through the mesh, before making a plod for it.

For more information about Pana‘ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens, go to hilozoo.org.

Reef lizardfish

A reef lizardfish sits motionless on a rock off the Big Island of Hawaii.

I saw my first lizardfish just a few weeks ago, noticing unusual marking on the rocks at a spot I often check out. Flipping through the pages of my fish book, it was fairly easy to figure out what I’d been looking at. Since then, I’ve been looking out for them and have seen several, a case of knowing what to look for I think.

Lizardfish, like hawkfish, flounders and octopuses, are better spotted on the move before they settle and blend in. I saw this reef lizardfish just as it plunked into this spot and froze. As I drifted around above it, it remained motionless, waiting for me to go away. When I did so, I saw the lizardfish shoot off and hide on a different slab of rock.

Hualalai from Mauna Kea

The top of Hualalai Volcano pokes through the clouds on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Hualalai volcano has an elevation of 8,271 feet (2,521 m). Only the top of the volcano was poking through the clouds on a recent visit to the top of Mauna Kea.