Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Mauna Kea Observatory
Panorama showing the observatory on the top of Mauna Kea
  Credit: Gemini

Mauna Kea or the White Mountain, on the island of Hawaii, has been used for looking at the night sky since ancient times. It is an extinct volcano and home to one of the best observatories in the world. The site is ranked the best in the Northern Hemisphere. It has dark skies free of street lights. The sea around the islands keeps the air stable, making the stars twinkle less. This makes the images much clearer. It is over 4,200 m high which means it is looking through less atmosphere (40% less). 

Its use as a site for telescopes is contested. The mountain is significant in Hawaiian culture. The first telescopes built there were done so without the agreement of the local people. New telescopes are still being placed on the site, though now at least in talks with local leaders. Still there is tension about the use of this land for building large telescopes.

Mauna Kea is home to over a dozen world-class telescopes ran by astronomers from many countries.

Some of the best telescopes on the mountain are:

Gemini North Telescope
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Subaru Telescope
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Keck Telescopes
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