Many large and important telescopes are located on top of Mauna Kea on Hawaii. This is a great location for many reasons: it's tall enough to be above the weather, an inversion layer at night keeps the atmosphere clear and dry, etc. But right next to Mauna Kea is an equally tall mountain Mauna Loa. Although there are some instruments on Mauna Loa (a NOAA station) there aren't major telescopes. Why? What makes Mauna Kea a better location?


1 Answer 1


Mauna Loa is an active volcano. The last eruption was in 1984.

  • $\begingroup$ Sounds reasonable, but it'd be great to have something more specific (Is the peak really threatened by lava? Would a nearby eruption ruin visibility?) and some evidence (I can think of several other plausible explanations). $\endgroup$ Jul 12, 2013 at 1:50
  • $\begingroup$ @NoahSnyder: I can't see a reason why all those expectations not be obtained by Googling? ;-) $\endgroup$ Jul 12, 2013 at 2:00
  • $\begingroup$ @CrazyBuddy: I spent at least 15 minutes trying to find this on google and failing. $\endgroup$ Jul 12, 2013 at 2:38
  • $\begingroup$ @NoahSnyder Given the cost of the facilities very small threats are worth avoiding. These things don't have to be likely to be problem for getting funding to build there. $\endgroup$ Jul 12, 2013 at 2:56
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    $\begingroup$ Since it is an active volcano, it is also a very active earthquake area. $\endgroup$ Jul 12, 2013 at 3:07

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