Mauna Kea, Atmosphere and Altitude


Mauna Kea.

According to the University of Hawaii – Institute for Astronomy, Mauna Kea (“White Mountain”) is a dormant volcano and the highest island-mountain in the world. Mauna Kea rises 9,750 meters (32,000 ft) from the ocean floor to an altitude of 4,205 meters (13,796 ft) above sea level, which places its summit above 40 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere. There are currently thirteen working telescopes near the summit of Mauna Kea. Nine of them are for optical and infrared astronomy, three of them are for submillimeter wavelength astronomy and one is for radio astronomy. The atmosphere above the mountain is extremely dry which is important in measuring infrared and submillimeter radiation and cloud-free, so that the proportion of clear nights is among the highest in the world.

Scenes from Mauna Kea can be used to provide a glimpse of atmospheric conditions and altitude, both provide ways to invoke rich discussions.  Location: Big Island in Hawaii.    Author: Karl Spencer.