Friday morning I gave a presentation to two groups at a local High School about One Week Job. It was the first time I had given a formal presentation about One Week Job. The first group went okay, though the second was 10 times better as I picked up my energy and felt more comfortable with the presentation. The kids responded really well and I was happy to do it. During the second presentation I was keeping an eye on the weather outside as we were slated to make our way up to the summit of Mauna Kea early afternoon. It didn't look very promising, though it was our last opportunity so we went ahead.
As we arrived at the visitor center, located 9,200 ft above sea level, I hopped out of the truck and walked quickly across the the parking lot. Perhaps a little too quickly. I forgot that you must take things slowly up there as the air is much thinner. I got a slight headache, though it was a good warning before ascending to the summit.
While spending about a half hour at the visitor center in order to acclimate, we walked for 2 minutes up hill. It didn't take much to begin breathing heavily. You can really feel the lack of oxygen when exerting yourself.
There was a break in the clouds and the road to the top was open, so our guide Kenyan thought we should get going while we had the chance. So up to the summit we went. Only two hours earlier we were at sea level, now at at 13,796 ft we felt on top of the world. A few of the observatories were open so we got to see close up just how massive these telescopes are. They are quite remarkable and I am really glad that we got the opportunity to experience it first hand.
I learned so much this week. I was humbled on many occasions trying to wrap my mind around the enormity of our Universe and the implications of cause and effect. Definitely makes for some thought provoking discussion. The study of the Universe is an amazing thing; to one astronomer he/she may be seeking to discover the answer of our very existence, how it all came to be, and the inter-connectedness of everything, while another may simply like to study the composition of rocks.
Coming out of this week, two things become very clear to me, one, my view of the Universe has forever been altered, and two... I am without a doubt buying myself a telescope when I get home.