Haleakala’s Science City

Dubbed “Science City,” the Haleakalā High Altitude Observatory was erected in 1958 due to the optimal viewing conditions the shield volcano possesses, where a near-absence of light pollution, as well as the high-altitude air and the mountain’s tremendous height, render it one of the most superb and valuable planetariums in the world.
Comprised of 18 acres near the summit, “Science City” is made up of several facilities, including Pan-STARRS, Faulkes Telescope North, the TLRS-4 Laser Ranging System, the Zodiacal Light Observatory, the Maui Space Surveillance Complex, and the Mees Solar Observatory.

Haleakala ObservatoryOf Science City’s many accomplishments is the detection of 19 near-Earth asteroids—the highest number of asteroids monitored in a single night—and the tracking of Venus. Most recently, Maui’s loftiest peak saw the unveiling of what’s been called the biggest digital map of the cosmos—an assemblage of data that showcases three billion stars, galaxies, and other celestial objects.

Up next?

The completion of the controversial, $344 million Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, which will become the world’s largest solar telescope, the National Science Foundation reports, and will provide “scientists with new insights into the physics of the sun and a better understanding of how space weather affects satellites, the power grid, and other infrastructure upon which human society has come to rely.”


Unfortunately, the Haleakala observatory is not open to the general public, but this area is one of the most underrated places to visit on Maui.

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