While studying at the University of Hawaii, astronomy graduate student and photographer Sean Goebel created a wondeful time-lapse video of the spectacular night sky over the Mauna Kea Observatories. The video, featuring a sequence of 7 nights (“three consecutive nights in April and four nights during the summer of 2013”), showcases the scientific landscape including astronomical telescopes and powerful lasers that shoot out into the sky for research.
Despite the challenges faced from an altitude of 14,000 ft, Goebel insists that the facility proved to be the best site for astronomy in the Northern Hemisphere. He explains his experience: “A typical scene took about 5 hours to film (300 1-minute exposures), and I had two cameras, so I could generally film two scenes per night. I had one chance to get it right, and mistakes were far more likely at 14,000 ft (4200 m). The temperatures were generally around freezing, and there often were high winds. We typically spent the first several hours per night driving around and setting up cameras. For the middle of the night, when the cameras were running, we typically took refuge inside JCMT [James Clerk Maxwell Telescope]. I know the JCMT operators from my observing trips, and they extremely generously allowed me come into the telescope to warm up and raid their hot chocolate supplies. After three or four hours of freezing in the howling winds outside, this was basically the best thing ever.”