Milky Way from Kaena Point, Oahu, Hawaii

The North Milky Way and the Galaxy Andromeda from Kaena Point

The North Milky Way and the Galaxy Andromeda from Kaena Point

The Hawaiian islands offer some very dark night skies.

Diana and I went out to Kaena Point in Oahu, Hawaii this Labor Day weekend with my old college friend Nate and new friend, Chris. The shoreline was packed with families and campers grilling dinner for the holiday weekend. Luckily, the weather was nice and clear, and we were happy to have dark skies with very little light pollution. Kaena Point is just about as far away on Oahu as you can get from the city lights of Honolulu.

From the Kaena Point Trailhead, we could see the dust lanes in the galactic plane and could even just barely make out the galaxy Andromeda with our naked eyes. Over the ocean, toward the south, the galactic center was just a bit past its peak. The rest of the silvery galactic plane arched high across the sky. In the galactic center, it was easy to make out the Omega Nebula.This trip, we wanted to keep the photography equipment minimalist. All we brought with us was the Canon EOS-M kit with a 22mm pancake lens, a tripod and a couple headlamps for roaming around in the dark. As it turns out, the EOS-M pushes out some great wide-field landscape astrophotography.

Nate Milky Way Kaena Point

Oahu is situated at a lower latitude than California, where I do most of my Milky Way astrophotography, and as a result, the galactic center sits a bit higher in the sky than I am used to seeing. We made this image of Nate out on the rocks that lined the shore by stacking four separate 15 second exposures. The stacking made for a really clear image of the Milky Way and really accentuated a lot of the detail in the galactic center.

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Before we left for the night, Nate and Chris helped us grab this portrait of Diana and me with the Milky Way in the background. We created the light ring by spinning a headlamp on the end of a shoelace.

Diana and Ian - Light Painting Portrait

If you’re in the Hawaiian Islands anytime soon, be sure to head out of town for a night and take a long look at the stars. I highly recommend the Kaena Point Trailhead if you’re on Oahu; it’s pretty easy to access and has a great view of the sky.

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Ian Norman

Creator at Lonely Speck
Ian Norman, co-founder and creator of The Photon Collective and Lonely Speck. Ian is a full time traveler, photographer and entrepreneur. In February 2013, he called it quits on his 9-to-5 to pursue a lifestyle of photography. Follow Ian's photography adventures on Instagram.

5 Responses

  1. Michael February 24, 2016 / 8:39 pm

    Hi Ian, I had a technical question about taking the last picture in this post. Do you take the photo of the milky way and then in the last few seconds of the long exposure jump in and spin the light? Thanks!

    • Ian Norman February 26, 2016 / 2:50 pm

      Nah, we simple stood very still for the whole exposure.

  2. Catherine September 28, 2015 / 3:54 pm

    Hi Ian, I’ve enjoy reading your article and watching your YouTube videos. I am just starting out learning how to use my DSLR and take Milky Way shots. I have joined a local meetup group in SoCal that host events and classes. So far I’ve taken Milky Way shots at Joshua Tree, Palomar Mountains and Mike’s Sky Ranch in California. My next locations I want to pursue are Death Valley, but since the Milky Way season is over, I will wait till next summer. I have a friend that lives in Hawaii and I would love to take a Milky Way shot sitting a little on top of the horizon. What time of the year would be a good time to visit Kaena Point and get a good shot of the the galactic core as well as take panoramic shots? It would nice to pre plan a trip to Hawaii =)

    Thank you for the information!

    – Catherine

  3. Carol September 19, 2013 / 2:09 am

    Hi! We live on oahu and I didn’t realize this viewing was possible. Your photos are unreal. Did you go to karma point from the northshore side or the leeward side? Can you view this from the beach or do you have to hike up? Thank you for any info. Mahalo!

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