Can you see the Milky Way from Haleakala? 2024 Easy Guide

Chris Klein, Amateur Astronomy Advisor

By Chris Klein

Updated:

Are you an avid stargazer who loves to take in the beauty of the night sky? Or you’re a first-time Maui traveler looking for an unforgettable experience. Regardless of your reasons, if you’re wondering, “Can you see the Milky Way from Haleakala?” this article is for you!

The short answer is yes! You can see the Milky Way from Haleakala. However, it’s a little more complicated. You must plan for the best time to observe our beautiful Milky Way galaxy. I’ll explain more in this article.

In this article, you get

An introduction to Haleakala National Park

Reasons why observing the Milky Way from the summit is ideal

Tips on the best time of year to see the Milky Way at Maui’s Haleakala National Park

By the end of this article, you’ll have all the info you need to see the Milky Way from Haleakala and more.

Let’s dive right in.

INTRODUCTION TO HALEAKALA AND THE MILKY WAY

Haleakala Milky Way photo credit Jenly Chen Flickr
Haleakala Milky Way photo credit Jenly Chen, Flickr

Welcome to the Haleakala National Park!

This beautiful Park on the Hawaiian island of Maui is home to the Haleakala Volcano.

Its summit is at 10,000 feet. The summit is the perfect place to observe the Milky Way. For a complete list, please read my article on the best stargazing Maui offers.

The summit area can be warm during the day, but temperatures can drop quickly at night, so proper preparation is essential. You should bring layers, snacks, a star chart, or a smartphone app to orient yourself in the night sky.

The night sky here, away from city lights, is breathtakingly beautiful.

You can see more stars and galaxies here than in most other spots on Earth.

With a local guide, you can identify nebulae, star clusters, and other galaxies in the night sky.

FREE STARGAZING CHECKLIST

My 5-page Stargazing Checklist will enhance your astronomical observations.

Follow this free checklist to navigate the night sky with confidence, clarity, and a sense of preparedness for a rewarding stargazing experience.

Free Stargazing Checklist

INTRODUCTION TO HALEAKALA NATIONAL PARK

Haleakala National Park is the crown jewel of Maui.

This incredible Park boasts dramatic landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and an abundance of unique wildlife. The summit of Haleakala offers unparalleled views of the island and beyond.

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful hike or an exciting adventure, Haleakala National Park has something for everyone.

From its peak, you can observe a vast array of deep-sky objects through the largest portable telescope on the island.

Or you can take a tour of the summit with a local expert.

HOW TO FIND THE MILKY WAY AT HALEAKALA

Haleakala Milky Way photo credit thedaintyheart Flickr
Haleakala Milky Way photo credit thedaintyheart, Flickr

To get the best view of the majestic Milky Way, you’ll want to plan your visit accordingly.

The moon’s phase and rise/set times are essential factors to consider when planning your trip. The light from a full moon will negatively affect the visibility of the Milky Way.

The best time to visit is during a new moon. If this isn’t possible, then be sure to plan your visit to be before moonrise or after moonset.

Once you determine the best time to visit, you’ll be nearly guaranteed to enjoy the best views of our great galaxy.

You’ll see many stars and planets from sea level or 10,000 feet up.

Bring appropriate gear for night photography and exploring the night sky.

HOW DO I GET TO HALEAKALA NATIONAL PARK?

The road to the summit of Haleakala

You can reach Haleakala National Park from Kahului via Route 37 to 377 to 378.

Driving time to the Summit District from Kahului is 2.5 hours, from Wailea is 3 hours, and from Lahaina is 3.5 hours.

The last gas station is in Pukalani. There are no electric vehicle charging stations in the Park.

The road to the Park is winding and long, so be sure to plan and give yourself plenty of time.

You can drive yourself or take one of the many stargazing tours offered by local companies.

No matter how you get there, you won’t be disappointed when you finally arrive at the summit and are rewarded with one of the clearest night skies.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO SEE THE MILKY WAY AT HALEAKALA

To get the best view of the Milky Way, you should visit in the summer months. During this time, the galactic center is visible from Maui for longer during the night.

The galactic center is the heart of the Milky Way. It’s the brightest and most detailed part of the Milky Way.

The darkest part of the night is between 2 hours after sunset and 2 hours before sunrise.

The Milky Way will be most visible with no moon in the sky, so you should also check the moon phase calendar before your travel to the summit.

OBSERVE THE MOST DEEP-SKY OBJECTS THROUGH THE LARGEST PORTABLE TELESCOPE ON HALEAKALA

The summit of Haleakala Volcano is home to the largest portable telescope on Maui.

With this telescope, you can observe many deep-sky objects, like nebulae and star clusters, and the visible planets of our solar system. You can observe both visible planets and deep-sky objects in the Milky Way.

Stargazing after sunset on Maui with this telescope is a fantastic experience that you won’t soon forget.

GET A CLEAR VIEW OF THE SKY FROM SEA LEVEL OR 10,000 FEET ABOVE IT

At sea level, you may be able to spot some constellations and planets, but you won’t have the same clear view of the Milky Way as if you had gone up to 10,000 feet.

However, heading up to the summit of Haleakala presents a unique opportunity to get a clear view from both sea level and 10,000 feet above it.

As you drive up through clouds and zig zags on your way up the volcano, you’ll be able to witness the stars emerging from the deep blue sky until you reach the summit.

You’ll have an unobstructed view of an incredibly star-filled night sky from the summit.

ADVANTAGES OF OBSERVING FROM 10,000 FEET ABOVE

At 10,000 feet above sea level, the view of the night sky from Haleakala National Park is breathtaking!

The elevation gives you the perfect vantage point to observe the stars and planets in our Milky Way Galaxy.

The air is much clearer and less humid at this altitude, so stars and other objects have better visibility in the night sky.

You can also get a more expansive night sky view because no obstacles are blocking your view.

All these advantages make observing from the summit an unforgettable experience.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

CAN YOU STARGAZE AT HALEAKALA?

Yes, you can stargaze at Haleakala National Park. The Park offers pristine dark skies due to its high elevation and minimal light pollution, providing ideal viewing conditions. Preparing the proper clothing and snacks is essential before you get the most out of your experience.

CAN I SLEEP IN MY CAR IN HALEAKALA NATIONAL PARK?

No, sleeping in your car outside of a designated campground is prohibited in Haleakala National Park. Staying overnight is only allowed in a designated camping area. You can make reservations at Hosmer Grove Campground in the summit district or Kipahulu Campground in the coastal district.

SUMMARY

Haleakala National Park is a fantastic place to view the Milky Way.

With its clear skies and incredible views, it’s no wonder that this Park is one of the best places to observe the night sky.

Whether you’re looking for a clear view of the sky from 10,000 feet above sea level or you want to observe deep-sky objects through the biggest portable telescope on Haleakala, there’s something here for everyone.

So if you’re looking for a great place to take in the night sky, check out Haleakala National Park.

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About the Author

Chris Klein, Amateur Astronomy Advisor

Chris Klein is an amateur astronomy advisor, astrophotographer, and entrepreneur. Go here to read his incredible story "From $50,000 in Debt to Award-Winning Photographer Living in Switzerland". If you want to send Chris a quick message, then visit his contact page here.

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