Star Gazing Program

Free Nightly Star Gazing Program!

The Visitor Information Station (VIS), at the 9,200 foot (2,800 m) level of Maunakea, has a nightly stargazing program held every night of the year from 6:00 pm until 10:00 pm. Sponsored entirely by public donations, this program is conducted free of charge and is open to everybody, no reservations needed!  Often above the clouds, the night skies at the VIS are often clear and bright, rivaling any other stargazing location in the world!

The program begins at 6:00 pm with the showing of First Light, a documentary about Maunakea made by PBS Hawaii that goes into the history of the mountain from both astronomical and cultural perspectives. You are welcome to come any time, however, and stay as long as you like.  

After the video, the stargazing program moves outside to the lanai, where several telescopes are set up for viewing. The telescopes are operated by our knowledgeable staff and volunteers. Throughout the night, telescopes will be pointed at various objects in the night sky, including open clusters, globular clusters, double stars, nebulae, planets, galaxies and supernova remnants. Purchased with public donations, these are your telescopes, so requests are always welcomed. Let's see what we can see!

As soon as it's dark enough, a star tour will be given.  Using a laser pointer, we will point out all the bright constellations and bright objects visible that night.  Description of the Stargazing Program (reprinted with permission from Hawaii Magazine.)

  • Please note that we often experience near-freezing night time temperatures at the VIS. Please, dress warmly!  (But just in case, warm clothing is available for sale at the Visitor Information Station's First Light Bookstore.)  Also, a red-filtered flashlight will help you navigate safely from the parking lot.
  • Also, please make sure there is a full tank of gas in your vehicle before making the trip up to the Visitor Station. Fuel is NOT available for purchase on Maunakea, and the nearest gas stations are about 35 miles/50 km away in either Hilo or Waimea.
  • Currently we are experiencing both insufficient parking and crowding on our Stargazing deck. We are working to address these issues but be aware before you arrive of the possibility of long lines and no parking available at the Visitor Information Station. Thank you for your patience.

We look forward to seeing you!  May your skies always be clear!


Free Nightly Stargazing

FREE Nightly Stargazing & Star Tours

Open to everyone! Every night of the year from 6pm - 10pm MKVIS conducts star tours and operates several telescopes for public viewing by our knowledgeable guides.
Learn More about our Stargazing Program »

Escorted Summit Tours

Every Sat. & Sun. Bring your 4WD vehicle and join our free summit tour caravan. Tours will go into at least one of the observatories.
Details of Escorted Summit Tours »

Volunteer Program

Learn about astronomy and Mauna Kea as a volunteer. No experience required.
Volunteer Positions at MKVIS »

First Light E-Store - Apparel, Souvenirs, DVDs and Books - Employment, internships and volunteer opportunities on Mauna Kea

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MKVIS Hours: 9am - 10pm every day.

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