Take the Maui Astronomy Tour to Haleakala for the star treatment

From my very first visit to Haleakala, my interest in astronomy was piqued. I recall arriving on the summit in the middle of the night, wondering if the famous Haleakala sunrise was worth the nearly sleepless night. Of course the sunrise was beautiful and worth every minute of lost sleep, but for me, seeing the incredible blanket of stars was even more amazing. With very little light pollution, Haleakala is one of the best places on earth for stargazing.

In 2009, I conducted a Q&A about stargazing in Hawaii with the Maui Astronomy Club president, Becky Sydney. Then in 2015, when I learned that Becky had started a brand new stargazing tour on Haleakala, I knew we’d have to book a tour on our next Maui visit and we did just that in January.

Astronomy expert, Becky Sydney, at the summit of Haleakala

Astronomy expert, Becky Sydney, at the summit of Haleakala

The tour started by meeting Becky at Kula Lodge. There, we got a taste of her infectious enthusiasm for Haleakala and astronomy. Becky explained the sequence of the tour, provided some education on the delicate environment and answered our questions. We then followed her by car up to the summit.

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A photo snapped from the passengers seat on the way to the summit of Haleakala

When we arrived at the summit, Becky gave us parkas, gloves, and hats too keep us more comfortable in the much cooler elevation. She then showed us where to watch sunset.

While we watched sunset, Becky set up the telescope and snacks for us to enjoy when we gathered for the astronomy portion of the tour.

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Haleakala sunset

On the night we visited, the moon was visible which gave us a great opportunity to view it from the telescope. As the sun sank deeper below the horizon, more and more stars became visible.

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A closer view of the moon as viewed through the eyepiece of the telescope.

With Becky’s 50-mile reach laser, she’d point out constellations and stars. I remember one star that Becky pointed to that we then viewed by telescope to learn that it wasn’t actually one star, it was many stars.

With Becky’s expert guidance, telescope and the snacks she provided, we were the envy of the summit. We could tell that passersby wished they could partake.

All in all, the tour was excellent and we do recommend it. For more opinions of this tour you can read TripAdvisor reviews here. Here’s what to know when you go:

  • The cost of the tour is $100 for adults and $78 for children ages 5 to 12. Note that the tour is not recommended for children under the age of five years.
  • The tour includes a yummy selection of mostly organic snacks plus the use of coats, hats, gloves which you will be grateful for in the winter months.
  • Wear long shirts and trousers, plus socks and closed shoes.
  • If possible, we recommend you book your tour on a night with the least amount of moonlight which will allow for more star visibility.
  • The tour is limited to 11 people, so advance booking is advised. On the night we visited there were ten people on the tour plus Becky.
  • For obvious reasons, we didn’t capture many photos of this tour, but feel free to check them all out here.
  • See the Maui Astronomy Tours website for more details.

Have you been on the Maui Astronomy Tour? How was your experience.

About Sheila Beal

Sheila Beal is the founder and editor of Go Visit Hawaii. You can connect with Sheila Beal on Twitter, Go Visit Hawaii on Facebook, or Sheila Beal on Google+.

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