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Mauna Kea, A Guide To Hawaii's Sacred Mountain Paperback – September 1, 2005

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Mauna Kea is a special place — sacred to Hawaiians because of its significance to their culture, and sacred to astronomers because of the exceptional seeing conditions. A trip to the Hawaiian Islands by anyone with an interest in astronomy should include a visit to Hawaii (the Big Island) in order to see the observatories and to experience the observing conditions at the summit of Mauna Kea.

Mauna Kea: A Guide to Hawaiis Sacred Mountain is an excellent resource for planning such an adventure and for understanding the mountain. The authors of the Guide are locals to the Big Island. David A. Byrne is the manager of the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station that is located about 1.4 km below the summit at Hale Pohaku. Leslie Lang is a writer who lives on a slope of Mauna Kea. The Guide is divided into nine chapters: Visit Mauna Kea, The Sacred Mountain, Natural History, Recreation, Visitor Information Station, Astronomy on Mauna Kea, Maunakea Discovery Center, The Future, and Resources.

The first chapter carefully outlines all that a traveller needs to know about conditions at the summit and how to get there. It lists and describes natural and historical sites that one can see and/or explore along the road leading to the summit. The importance of the mountain in Hawaiian culture is sensitively treated in the second chapter. It is important to appreciate that the Hawaiians are truly generous in permitting the astronomical community to use the summit for research.

The Guide is filled with many photographs, of which some are magnificent examples of what awaits. There are four maps: Island of Hawaii, Summit Area, Cultural and Religious Sites, and Observatories and Facilities. The maps are useful in finding many of the locations mentioned in the text. Unfortunately, the Cultural and Religious Sites map is very sketchy and extremely difficult to relate to the other maps and to the text. Perhaps a future edition of the Guide will improve the map since much of the discussion in Chapter 2 relates to it. Overall, the Guide will be very useful for visiting Mauna Kea. I wish that it had been available during the year that I spent living on the Big Island. It would have enriched my understanding and appreciation of Mauna Kea. I plan to use it during my next visit to locate the Adze Quarry near the summit that I did not even know existed. --Richard Bochonko, ""Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada"" (copyright 2006)

You will seldom see so much information in such a little book. Amazingly, it is also both useful and enjoyable.

Mauna Kea on the Big Island is a majestic volcano that rises a full 40 percent higher above sea level than our own Haleakala. Like most imposing features of these islands, the mountain is intimately associated with a deity — not Pele, but Poliahu, and in another sense Wakea the father of the known world. The mountain is also known as Mauna O Wakea, and as a world-class astronomy center.

The Hawaiian Islands have been important to astronomers for a long time. Captain Cook came into the Pacific to observe a transit of Venus, in fact, and telescopes were set up in Honolulu to observe another Venus transit (passage across the sun) in 1874. The population of telescopes has steadily grown ever since, with many of them built on Mauna Kea.

This book is a thorough and comprehensive biography of Mauna Kea.

Mauna Kea: A Guide to Hawaiis Sacred Mountain is a guidebook with all the usual elements that make a good trail guide, but it has so much more. By the time youve read the preface, foreword and introduction, youll have learned a lot about the mountain and the natural history of Hawaii.

Heres a fast-forward through the subjects as I recall them by flipping through the pages, stopping only on a few color pictures: calderas and craters, shield volcanoes, snow and winter recreation, hiking and hunting, the visitor center complex, the unusual cloud formations and weather, tours and drives, the sacredness of the place and the science accomplished there, shrines and natural wonders, ancient burials and modern astronomy, the Discovery Center and finally, the future of the mountain predicated on the big question: Will Mauna Kea erupt again? Answer: Almost surely, but no one knows when.

Just as I finished reading this book on Dec. 21, an article appeared in the paper. The headline read, Young star gives clues about the birth of life. The subhead was, From atop Mauna Kea, astronomers get to see a sort of holy grail.

The book strives constantly to balance Native Hawaiian spirituality and culture with science, and it seems to suggest that balance can be maintained without injury to either. Of course, some scientists might want to ignore all else in the pursuit of knowledge, but not the scientists represented here. It is equally true that some practitioners of Hawaiian culture would like to eradicate all traces of science to make way for the reestablishment of traditional veneration and worship, but not the practitioners in this book. --Joseph W. Bean, ""Maui Weekly"" (copyright 2006)

About the Author

Leslie Lang is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Pepeekeo on the Hilo Coast. David A. Byrne is the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Manager.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Watermark Publishing; 1 edition (September 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0975374052
  • ISBN-13: 978-0975374054
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. C. Staron on April 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
My husband and I bought this book before exploring the mountain on our visit to the Big Island. What a fabulous book! It was easy to reference and made our trip so much more enjoyable. We knew where to go and what we were looking at. It gave a lot of background on Hawaiian history and the significance the mountain has to the Hawaiian people. This made our visit to Mauna Kea very pleasurable. I would highly recommend it if you on your way to the Big Island!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on April 5, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book overall tells alot about the history of Mauna Kea, it's legends, and history. There is an excellent section on each Observatory on Mauna Kea, but, that section of the book needs updating, as it keeps referring to new, updated equiptment, arriving in 2006. Otherwise, it's a great read about the Volcano and all it has to offer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sherilyn Dyer on April 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
I purchased this book for my husband. He was very pleased. We are going back to the Big Island and the book will be of great use to him.

It was more informative than I had expected. It was loaded with photos too.

I am quite pleased with this purchase.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By DWIGHT L ROBERTS on August 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A+++++;Excellant Service and Response; Will Absolutely Use Again!!! Good Book, Glad I found you for this purchase. Thank You Again
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Gavin Mason on July 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
I never like to give a bad review and never have before but I really feel that I have to in this case. I have taught astronomy and worked at one of the telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea myself and I have to say that this book is so badly written that I could not actually believe that anyone had published it or that it was written by an adult. I looked it up and found that it wasn't published by a real publisher after all, but by a vanity press, which explains the very poor quality of the writing. The content is also so simplistic that it is not really at all useful as a guide. This is not one to waste your time on.
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