Hawaii Forest & Trail offers a Mauna Kea tour. // © 2016 Mark Edward Harris
It’s not enough that the Hawaiian islands are bestowed with endless days of glorious weather and dramatic landscapes. When night falls, the universe truly unveils itself. The top of Hawaii Island’s Mauna Kea — which is 13,796 feet above sea level and more than 33,000 feet from its base, making it the world’s tallest mountain from floor to summit — is one of the best locations on the planet for astronomical observation.
At 2 p.m., I was picked up at the magnificent Four Seasons Resort Hualalai by Hawaii Forest & Trail for its Mauna Kea Summit & Stars Adventure, leaving the driving up the dormant volcano to our expert guide. After photographing a spectacular sunset, we descended for a private star show, viewed through an 11-inch Celestron telescope. I mounted my Nikon D810 camera with a 14-24mm lens on a tripod; set it to f/2.8 for 20 seconds at ISO 1600; and let Mother Nature do the rest.