Near-Infrared Image of Mauna Kea

December 05, 2007


Provided by: David Harrington, University of Hawaii, Institute for Astronomy
Summary authors & editors: David Harrington, Stu Witmer

This is a near-infrared image taken of a shield volcano, Mauna Kea, as seen from Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii. Mauna Kea is 13,796 ft tall (4,205 m) and is one of five basaltic shield volcanoes that form the Big Island of Hawaii. The Big Island is the youngest of the Hawaiian chain, and is the host of arguably the best astronomical site in the world. On the western slope of the volcano (center) you can see a line of cinder cones, called a rift zone, dotting the volcano (click on picture to enlarge). This shot was captured from the older Haleakala shield volcano, at 10,023 ft (3,055 m) tall, roughly 80 miles (129 km) away. It was taken with a normal Pentax digital SLR camera using a special near-infrared filter. Normally, a picture taken through the miles of air between the islands would be very hazy. Since scattered light is much weaker at longer wavelengths (redder colors), near-infrared (wavelengths immediately adjacent to visible red) filters can give you a very clear picture from afar. An example of this scattered light at this location can be seen on the Earth Science Picture of the Day for April 13, 2007, which shows the haze observed in red, green, and blue light.