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Maunakea Stargazing Program Moves to Four Nights a Week

Posted April 3, 2017, 02:48 PM HST Updated April 7, 2017, 10:25 AM HST
16 Comments
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Maunakea Visitor Information Station. Photo source: www.ifa.hawaii.edu

The free stargazing program at the Maunakea Visitor Information Station on the Big Island will be reduced from seven to four nights a week beginning on April 17, 2017.

The change was necessary because of concerns for public safety and budget constraints.

The number of vehicles on Maunakea has surged significantly in recent years. The VIS has parking for about 115 vehicles, and vehicle counts now surpass 200 on busy evenings.

“The parking lot routinely fills up, and many evening visitors are now parking on the narrow road shoulders and adjoining natural areas, which can be dangerous and damage the environment,” said Stewart Hunter, general manager of the Maunakea Observatories Support Services. “And the peak tourism season is still to come.”

Reducing the number of evenings for the stargazing programs is the best option to ensure visitor and employee safety and protect natural and cultural resources.

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Maunakea Observatories Support Services also cannot afford to continue to adequately staff stargazing every day of the week.

In March 2016, the VIS had to increase staffing and began hiring special duty officers to help the Maunakea Rangers control traffic and parking.

Stargazing will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights (weather permitting), and there will be no stargazing on Sunday, Monday and Thursday nights. Parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis, and once the parking lots are full, vehicles will be turned away.

Visitor traffic to Maunakea was sparse for decades when Saddle Road was a winding, marginally paved road with many single-lane bridges. For years, rental car companies did not allow their vehicles on the road, but those restrictions were lifted after the vast majority of Saddle Road was upgraded between 2002 and 2016 to meet federal highway standards.

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Wendy Dennis-Saeli Mike SaeliApril 03, 2017 03:17pm
Naomi Valentin Delvin Valentin babe we should do thisApril 03, 2017 04:01pm
Yvonne Steenson Taylor Stewart Hunter also had the road guard rails placed across the street blocking off easily 25 parking spots. We were there last Sunday night and got turned away. Aggravating.April 03, 2017 04:53pm
Ann T. Beck They have too many people showing up 7 nights a week so they reduce it to 4. Where is the logic in that?April 03, 2017 07:59pm
David Austin So...DONT look up Sunday, Monday or Thursday:-/!!!April 03, 2017 08:14pm
Ami Tajudeen NaufelApril 03, 2017 09:54pm
Sonja Leute Josh LeuteApril 04, 2017 05:33am
Dernie Waikiki Jessie Ellington here's another thing to do. Ask John Emrich Oakley if he knows anyone. LolApril 04, 2017 09:24am
Katharine Rodriguez David Rodriguez this is what I wanted to do with Nathan. Bobbie Rodrigues if we come down we go!!April 04, 2017 10:46am
Bobbie Rodrigues Yeah of courseApril 04, 2017 11:00am
Jessie Ellington I want to do this. I heard they do it for locals for free, but you have to sign up early.April 04, 2017 12:00pm
Dernie Waikiki Well let's get on that shuttle. Lmao.April 04, 2017 12:37pm
Jessie Ellington I need to figure out how to sign up lolApril 04, 2017 12:39pm
Seizen Tsuha get a parking lot above the vis and below. you could have parked there.April 04, 2017 03:15pm
Yvonne Steenson Taylor Both lots were full and park Rangers said to turn around and leave. Wish it had been that easy.April 04, 2017 04:34pm
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