The camera is facing southeast. Haleakala, or the East Maui Volcano, rises to 10,023 ft (3,055 m).
Cinder cones of this dormant shield volcano (including Ka Lu’u o ka O’o Vent on the right) run in nearly a straight line eastward to the Kipahulu Gap, a break in the crater wall.
In addition to being a fascinating geological feature, Haleakala National Park was designated as an International Biosphere Reserve in 1980 by UNESCO. As such, it conforms to the UNESCO guidelines of encompassing a variety of ecosystems having a high level of biodiversity.
Because of the remarkable clarity, dryness, and stillness of the air, and its elevation (with atmospheric pressure of 71 kPa/533 mm Hg), as well as the absence of the lights of major cities, the summit of Haleakalā (like Mauna Kea) is one of the most sought-after locations in the world for ground-based telescopes. As a result of the geographic importance of this observational platform, experts come from all over the world to take part in research at “Science City“, an astrophysical complex operated by the U.S. Department of Defense, University of Hawaii, Smithsonian Institution, Air Force, Federal Aviation Agency, and others.
Some of the telescopes operated by the US Department of Defense are involved in researching man-made (e.g. spacecraft, monitoring satellites, rockets, and laser technology) rather than celestial objects. The program is in collaboration with defense contractors in the Maui Research and Technology Park in Kihei. The astronomers on Haleakalā are concerned about increasing light pollution as Maui’s population grows. Nevertheless, new telescopes are added, such as the Pan-STARRS in 2006.