The Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island of Hawaii

To better understand the Native Hawaiian perspective, we explored the island and its mostly untouched natural beauty.

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Jul 22 2015, 3:22pm

From the column 'Photos From Beyond'

Mauna Kea is the most sacred mountain in Hawaiian culture, considered by native Hawaiians to be the focal point of the entire planet. It is also the best place in the Northern hemisphere to build a telescope, which is why the scientists behind the Thirty Meter Telescope—slated to open in 2024—selected Mauna Kea's summit as the location for their powerful new observatory.

Now, these two perspectives have converged on the mountain, with many Hawaiians protesting the continued development on Mauna Kea. The TMT crew has countered that their observatory will collect information that will benefit of all of humanity. It will be able to see the first stars that ever shone in the universe, and resolve alien planets in unprecedented detail, perhaps even finding signs of extraterrestrial life.

To better understand the Native Hawaiian perspective, we explored the island and its mostly untouched natural beauty.

Fields of volcanic rock surround Mauna Kea.

Papakolea Beach, or Green Sand Beach gets its unique coloration due to the mineral olivine–a product of the cooling magma from nearby Mauna Loa.

Another look at Papakolea Beach.

The Hawaiian coast is beautiful, not that it needed to be said.

Near Mauna Kea