A few months ago, I included a company called Stargazing on Haleakala in a blog I wrote about the Top 10 Things to Do on Haleakala, the largest dormant volcano in the world (although it’s not technically dormant), which happens to be on Maui. It was a good blog, don’t get me wrong, but for the love of god I am begging everyone in the world to stop reading top 10 lists so I can stop writing them. Let’s get crazy, switch it up, mix the pot – let’s all start reading whole paragraphs again! It’s good for us.
But back to the topic.
While I was writing the aforementioned top 10 list, I discovered a really cool company that offers stargazing tours at the summit of Haleakala National Park, just over 10,000 feet above sea level. As a generous thank you for writing about her company, the owner of Maui Stargazing, lovely lady Jan, invited myself and some friends up for a night of stargazing awesomeness on the house. Hooray! The giving of free/hooked up goods, services and experiences is so weirdly and unfortunately rare on Maui that I truly appreciate the gesture. A million times thank you to Jan.
So up we went.
Stargazing on Haleakala
The climate on Haleakala is much, much different than the climate where we live. Trade in the dust and super sunny sunshine for cool breezes and misty rain showers and you’ve found yourself on the side of a volcano, my friend. And rest assured, it gets freaking cold up there. Luckily for us, Jan brought wintertime essentials like ski pants, jackets, mittens, boots and beanies, without which we definitely would have lost an unimportant toe.
We happened to go a night with no wind, no clouds and a new moon, which means absolutely no moon. According to Jan, that’s just about the best of the best you can hope for, and I’ll take her word for it.
We arrived at the site a little before 6:00pm, leaving a few beautiful minutes to watch as the sky changed colors over the cloud line. Jan pointed out an area of purple shadows and let us know that what we were seeing was actually the shadow of the Earth itself. I’m not sure my brain can quite wrap around that, but it can totally wrap around the fact that it’s badass.
As we waited until dark, we chatted with Jan about work, life, family, dating rocket scientists and Scrabble, and warmed ourselves with sips of 1800 Coconut Tequila. When on a volcano, right? Jan showed us what we were going to be seeing up close on the coolest app I’ve ever seen (SkySafari – check it), familiarizing us with nebulae, globular formations, star clusters, galaxies, and lots of other amazing things that made me want to join her Astronomy Club.
When the sky was scientifically and officially ‘dark as $%!&’, Jan used her laser pointer to show us what we’d been looking at previously on the iPad, then aimed her telescope and let us take a closer look, also reminding us that since the Earth is constantly moving at 1,000 miles an hour, if we didn’t see what she had explained, it had already likely moved out of the frame of the lens. Nuts!
Also, let me just say that Jan is cooler than cool. She’s extremely personable and hilarious and intelligent, and I genuinely hope to see her again.
Everything she showed us was completely breathtaking, and the conditions couldn’t have been more perfect. I’m not sure whether it was the hilarious commentary coming from the Japanese tourists next to us, the warm tequila on a cold night, the laying down in a parking lot on a volcano or really seeing the most stars I’ve ever seen in my life, but the combination was… well… on point.
Huge thank you to Maui Stargazing for showing us a wonderful time in a beautiful place, and the next time you’re searching for something totally different and romantic and awe-worthy to do, holler at Jan and gaze the crap out of some stars.