The Observatory on Haleakala, aka Science City…

On a clear day
How it will astound you
That the glow of your being
Outshines every star…  (Lyrics from “On a Clear Day” by Barbra Streisand)

High atop Maui’s Haleakala, the dormant volcano that dominates the island’s landscape, “Science City” sits on a pinnacle of lava, cinders and ash formed from countless ancient volcanic eruptions. Its domes glisten in the brilliant afternoon sun above the mountain’s almost-daily flaring skirt of clouds clinging closely to its slopes like a ballerina’s tutu.

Science City sits atop the mountain’s lofty perch over Maui’s fertile Central Valley below. On the other side of the island valley from whence it gets its nickname “Valley Island” are the West Maui Mountains, also called Kahalewai,. They appear in the distance as a breathtaking three-dimensional patchwork of sugar cane fields and desert. The surrounding blue Pacific, relentlessly whipped by the nearly constant trade winds, reaches in every direction to the distant horizons. But, it is what’s above Haleakala that matters most to Science City (it’s unofficial but popular name) and to the scientists, technicians, and military personnel who use the site for observing, exploring, probing, and monitoring the heavens. It is the unobstructed view of our planet’s sun, solar system, galaxy, and, indeed, the entire universe that make this site unique.

Officially, Science City is known as the Haleakala High Altitude Observatory. With an impressive collection of optical, radio, radar, and infrared telescopes, listening dishes, and sensing instruments. The various observatories scan the limitless sky above on a 24/7 basis. Simultaneously, they perform such diverse missions as exploring the heavens, monitoring natural and manmade space activities, tracking the growing amount of space junk, and defending the nation from missile attacks.

The array of observatories at the summit site includes both science and military projects. They are managed by an alphabet soup of civilian, governmental and military agencies. They are supported by labs and computing facilities far below at the Advance Technology Center in Pukalani and Kihei’s Maui High Performance Computing Center (MHPCC).

On a clear day and might… they can see forever!

Whadda Ya Know About Maui?

2 thoughts on “The Observatory on Haleakala, aka Science City…

  1. In life there are no coincidences… at least that’s my take. It’s just we never fully know the extent of how things relate to each other. Thanks so much for commenting, Lilly!


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