Mauna Kea, meaning white mountain in Hawaiian, because of the snow fall that occurs above 11,000 feet between November and March. Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano that last erupted in 2460 BC. It sits 13,796 feet above sea level and is the highest peak in the Hawaiian Islands. It is also considered the world’s highest island peak and if measured from the sea floor the highest spot on Earth. It makes up about 23% of the Big Island of Hawaii.
The summit has been home to star gazers since ancient times. It is considered one of the earth’s top observation points because it is above 40% of Earth’s atmosphere and 90% of the water vapor. This allows for exceptionally clear viewing of the night sky and is therefore a wildly popular destination for the astronomically inclined from all over the world.