Stargazing Chapter

New Year and New Experiences

When I look at the stars in my backyard, I can see a few stars–one we believe may be Venus or perhaps the North star, and occasionally I see one of the dippers.

I have to admit, however, I never saw the stars until I was atop Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Start at the top:

Sunset on Mauna Kea Photo by  Semra Gurol

Sunset on Mauna Kea
Photo by Semra Gurol

Sunset at the top of Mauna Kea is a sight to behold. The clouds are far below you and the sun has no warmth. It is hard to believe, but atop this Hawaiian Island, I was wearing two sweaters, a down jacket and a parka and I was freezing! Also–a little light headed. Of course, we were at 14,000 feet above sea level. The guide said there was 40% less oxygen up there than at sea level, so maybe it is understandable. (A New York Times travel writer had the audacity to say that only relatively active 30 year olds could handle the trip and that it wasn’t for older people. Well, relatively active 60-70 year olds can handle it just fine–don’t let him deter you from this visit.)

Utter Amazement

Wow! Oh My God! These were whispered and exclaimed over and over again by the 14 or so guests on the Star Gazing tour to Mauna Kea. One would think that people in their 60’s plus would not be amazed by the stars, but we all were utterly in awe.


The guide pointed out the constellations and they really look like the drawings we see of them in books and magazines. I saw the Twins constellation, but it was upside down. When they reach the western horizon at the end of May and beginning of June, they will be standing on their feet. I saw another galaxy–Alpha Centauri– without a telescope!! We saw stars being born!!! The night sky was brilliantly alight with stars.

No one wanted to leave, but it was cold. And, I must admit our necks were aching from constantly looking up. Yet, it was impossible to look away as it was so breathtaking.

We need to remember that the ordinary can amaze us in ways we never thought possible.

More new experiences to come. Stay tuned.
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