I took some time after lunch before the trip to the summit started to go back and smell the silverswords again. Knowing what to
I was also able to do a little geological sleuthing while I was there. Saturday morning I discovered the 3-dimensional views of Google Earth, and had been looking at the various Hawaiian islands. This naturally led to me find the Vis, at which point I was shocked to discover that directly south of the south, just before reaching it, the road to it passes through the remains of an enormous cinder cone. I was shocked because I have driven up and down that road (and through the cinder cone) over a dozen times, and never suspected its presence. It really doesn't look much like a cinder cone when you're actually standing on its rim, however, as I discovered. The east and west portions of its rim jut up significantly higher than the rest (the west side is a very popular location near the Vis for viewing the sunset), and on the south-east side where the road enters the cone its rim is completely invisible (there is another, much smaller cinder cone near that location, the formation of which may have destroyed the rim of the older, larger cone).
What really amazed me about this particular cone is how large it is. It is larger in diameter that most of the other cinder cones on the mountain, over a thousand feet from edge to edge. I don't think it's the largest cinder cone on Mauna Kea, but after looking around some more in Google Maps I'd be willing to bet it's in the top five (in terms of diameter, I'm not considering height).
Those of you who program know how rare it is for everything to work right the first time, especially when writing with functions you've never used before! I guess it's a testament to the power and simplicity of the Python Imaging Library that I was using to create the pictures.
If you're wondering what these are picture of, they are pictures of star-forming regions in relatively nearby galaxies (within a few hundred million light years). They are all made using one specific frequency of light, known as hydrogen-alpha (Hα), the frequency emitted by an electron jumping from the third level to the second level of an excited hydrogen atom, at a wavelength of 656.3 nanometers.
Anyway, now you can see what I've spent my summer doing....making grainy black-and-white pictures. They may not be the prettiest pictures on the planet, but they're special to me (and, it appears, pretty valuable scientifically as well. Dr. Takamiya was quite impressed with them). It remains to be seen what results await our scrutiny...