If you’ve ever been to Maui, a Hawaiian island equally famous for its beaches and observatories, you may have taken the winding drive to the top of the Haleakala Crater, a volcano that seems quiet now but still has the potential for future eruptions. There at 10,000 feet a landscape of volcanic cinder cones the color of Mars stretches out before you. Bleak at first glance, many find it oddly inviting.
Most visitors to the mountaintop make the drive during the day and go for a short hike along the well-worn, rocky trail. But not Wally Pacholka.
The California photographer drove up at night on March 27 to make this spectacular image of the springtime Milky Way rising over the rugged heights of Earth. Well, it was a little more complicated than that:
(I was) “huddled in the back seat of a rental car on cold 10,000 foot Haleakala Crater,” said Pacholka, “with endless rain pounding on roof of car for nights on end, until a clearing in the skies” on the 27th.
His efforts shows in a very poignant way the interface of planet Earth with the greater cosmos. The Milky Way arcs like a rainbow across the eastern sky spanning the two great crosses of the heavens: Cygnus the Northern Cross and Crux the Southern Cross. At upper right is the planet Saturn and to its lower left the bright red star Antares in Scorpius.
Last October I hiked the Haleakala Crater in cool, sunshiny 60 degree temperatures when down at beach level people glistened in 90 degree heat. I loved that walk and took many pictures including one with a similar perspective as Pacholka’s night shot. I thought you’d enjoy seeing both.
If I ever return to Hawaii, I’m already inspired to head up the big slope again, but this time at night to experience live what Wally captured so well.