Mauna Kea 13,796 ft (4,205 m) - Big Island

Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, one of five volcanic peaks that together form the Island of Hawaii. In Hawaiian, mauna kea means "white mountain", a reference to the fact that it is regularly snow or frost capped during the northern hemisphere winter. Its highest point, Pu'u Wēkiu (one of numerous cinder cones on the summit), is the highest point in the state of Hawaii at 13,796 ft (4,208m).

Mauna Kea is also the tallest mountain in the world when measured from base to peak, its base being some 16,000 ft (over 5,000 m) under the surface of the Pacific Ocean. After millions of years of building itself up by volcanic activity, the mountain's height is slowly decreasing as it is being crushed under its own massive weight into the Pacific seafloor.

The summit of Mauna Kea is managed by the University of Hawai'i's Institute for Astronomy. Mauna Kea is both a sacred and historical site in the Hawaiian culture and one of the most important land-based astronomy sites in the world. The location is ideal because of its dark skies, good astronomical seeing, low humidity, clean air, good weather and almost equatorial location.

The accommodation for research astronomers are located below the summit at 9300 feet (2835 meters) above sea level, and a visitor information station is located at 9200 feet (2775 meters). The summit of Mauna Kea is so high that scientists and other visitors are advised to stay at the lower level for 40 minutes to acclimate to atmospheric conditions before reaching the summit.


UH 0.6-m Telescope

The first telescope on the mountain in 1969, it is now used mainly for undergraduate student training and for instrument development.

United Kingdom Infrared Telescope

A 3.8-meter infrared telescope operated by the United Kingdom.

UH 2.2 meter telescope

Optical/IR telescope used mainly by UH faculty and graduate students

Gemini Telescope

An 8.1-meter optical/IR telescope operated by a consortium of seven countries.

Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope

3.6-meter optical telescope operated by Canada, France, and Hawaii

NASA Infrared Telescope Facility

3.0-meter diameter infrared telescope operated by University of Hawaii for NASA

W. M. Keck Observatory

Two 10-meter telescopes operated by Caltech and University of California

Subaru Telescope

8.3-meter diameter optical/IR telescope operated by Japan


Submillimeter Array

Eight 6-meter submillimeter antennas operated by Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and Taiwan

James Clerk Maxwell Telescope

15-meter diameter telescope for submillimeter astronomy operated by the UK, Netherlands and Canada

Caltech Submillimeter Observatory

10.4 -meter antenna for submillimeter astronomy operated by Caltech


Link to Mauna Kea virtual tour in Java

Please visit Full Screen QTVR tours from:
>>> Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park
>>> The Endangered Buddhist Temples of Hawai'i
>>> Mauna Kea,13,796 ft (4,205 m) high
>>> Waipi'o Valley
>>> Liliuokalani Gardens, Hilo
>>> Wailuku River, Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots
>>> Pana`ewa Rainforest Zoo
>>> Akaka and Kahuna Falls (Updates)
>>> Hilo Area(Updates)
>>> Hamakua Coast(Updates)