Astronomers, others take Clintons on Maunakea tour

  • Photo courtesy of University of Hawaii
    Hillary and Bill Clinton at the Maunakea observatories.
  • Photo courtesy of University of Hawaii
    Former President Bill Clinton, UH Hilo student Mitchel Rudisel, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, astronomer Mark Chun of the UH Institute for Astronomy, Waiakea High student Alicia Chun and UH Hilo astronomy chair Marianne Takamiya.
  • From left, Maunakea ranger Tommy Waltjen, former President Bill Clinton, Maunakea Support Services general manager Stewart Hunter, former University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy director Guenther Hasinger, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, chief Maunakea ranger Scotty Paiva (in back), and Office of Maunakea Management director Stephanie Nagata. (University of Hawaii/Courtesy photo)

HILO — At least nine astronomers, students and Office of Maunakea Management staffers had a rare opportunity in early January to lead Bill and Hillary Clinton on a tour of the Maunakea summit.

The former U.S. president and former secretary of state were on-island at the time and had requested to visit the mountain.


“We received a call from the Honolulu Secret Service asking if it would be possible for the Clintons to come up as civilians,” Maunakea Support Services General Manager Stewart Hunter said. “We felt, as long as it could be arranged and they would not have to limit public access or close the road or interfere with anything else, we’d be happy to help them.”

The tour began in the late afternoon Jan. 8 as the Clintons were debriefed about the mountain’s history and cultural and scientific significance while they acclimated to the altitude at Halepohaku, said Stephanie Nagata, director of OMKM.

Hillary Clinton “indicated to us they always had wanted to go up to the mountain but they never had an opportunity to go,” Nagata said. “So they had this trip to Hawaii and took advantage of their stay here on the Big Island to go up to the mountain. They always had been very interested in astronomy.”

The Clintons were shown culturally and geologically important sites at the summit, including the Adz Quarry and Lake Waiau, Nagata said. They also toured the W.M. Keck Observatory for an opportunity to see “the inside of a large telescope facility,” she added, and they watched the sunset from the summit.

Nagata said she found them “very friendly, very engaging and very interested.” She said leading a summit tour for a former U.S. president and secretary of state is “not common.”

The Clintons’ tour ended with a return to Halepohaku for stargazing via two 9.25-inch telescopes.

University of Hawaii at Hilo astronomy chairwoman Marianne Takamiya said the Clintons were shown Orion Nebula in the Milky Way, the Andromeda galaxy and the Rosette Nebula, along with other objects that are relatively easy to spot. She said the Clintons stargazed for almost an hour before they descended the mountain to make a dinner reservation.

“They had a ton of questions,” Takamiya said. “They were so thankful we were doing this. I liked the fact they were so relatable and humble and thankful to all of us, especially to my (UH-Hilo) student (who was present). We saw them on the way up and then again on the way down, and President Clinton re-recognized my student and was very friendly, and I thought that was very touching for my student.”

Takamiya’s 14-year-old daughter, Alicia Chun, a freshman at Waiakea High School, also got to meet the Clintons. Alicia said she was waiting in a car during the stargazing portion of the tour when she received permission from Secret Service personnel to join.

Alicia said she fondly remembers speaking to Hillary Clinton and adjusting the telescope together with the former secretary of state.


“That was pretty cool,” Alicia said. “We looked at clusters of the stars together. I thought they were really nice and I also learned a lot. It was a great opportunity.”

Email Kirsten Johnson at

  1. Pest Outwest March 10, 2018 4:00 am Reply

    Oooh, ick, shouldn’t a public warning be issued when these criminals are in the vicinity? Like when you notify families a sexual predator has moved into a neighborhood? Personally I’m horrified to be on the same land mass with these people.

  2. antifaHI March 10, 2018 6:59 am Reply

    Descriptions of the Clintons: “relatable, humble, thankful, nice”. Met them many years ago in a social setting and they truly are.

    1. NevahHappen March 10, 2018 10:23 am Reply

      Been smoking too much of you dope. That screeching psycopath is one of the most vicious people infesting politics. And, that is saying something considering the filed.

      This country dodged such a huge bullet in defeating that beast. The clinton body count continues to rise, though not in the news as much. Poor Seth Rich is tha last known one to be murdered at the behest of the Clintoons.

      1. Freddy King March 11, 2018 8:53 pm Reply

        Hillary is a killer beast for sure.

    2. Carole March 10, 2018 10:44 am Reply

      RIGHT…Now tell us another Fairy Tale…

    1. Buds4All March 11, 2018 4:55 pm Reply

      She is a toothless whore!

  3. Kaipo Wall March 10, 2018 10:11 am Reply

    Who transported them ?

    1. Carole March 10, 2018 10:43 am Reply


    2. Kaipo Wall March 13, 2018 12:54 am Reply

      I see where this despicable , lying , POS is over in India trying her best to stab our President and all of those that voted for him , in the back . Again . The woman needs to be 100% prosecuted and convicted of multitudinous crimes , corruptions and treason . There has never been a more vile politician on the loose . She needs to be doing 20 to life in Guantanamo. Not feted like some kind of celebrity here on the Big island . Disgraceful . Disgusting . And to those in this community whom had a role in hosting her/them ( you know who you are) shame on them . Mega AUWE !

  4. NevahHappen March 10, 2018 10:30 am Reply

    Never, ever forget the evil personified in this psycho monster.

    1. Carole March 10, 2018 10:46 am Reply

      BENGHAZI…SEPT.11 2012

  5. Carole March 10, 2018 10:42 am Reply

    Only one photo??? Hillary looks like the size of a tank. and the hat..says it all…lol both Clinton’s are finished and done for…now the Foundation is under the micro scope they will be crying a river…

      1. Big ideas March 11, 2018 8:18 am Reply

        Interesting that ole Billy-Boy isn’t standing next to the love of his life and mother of his daughter – Hillabeast!

        1. NevahHappen March 11, 2018 10:39 am Reply

          Uh, that would be Webb Hubbel’s daughter.

          1. Freddy King March 11, 2018 8:49 pm

            I never knew that Webb Hubble was a blind guy!

          2. NevahHappen March 12, 2018 8:10 pm

            Close to the Clintoon Crime Family. Was either coerced into it or she went the turkey baster route. The ‘toon himself claimed to be sterile to at least one of his victims.

            Do a search for Webb Hubblell- Chelsea Clintoon. Amazing gifs and comparisons clearly show the relationship.

        2. Buds4All March 11, 2018 4:52 pm Reply

          I hope she left no snail trail on our island that Dusty Old Taco!

        3. Freddy King March 11, 2018 8:47 pm Reply

          HA!….Would you?

    1. Freddy King March 11, 2018 8:46 pm Reply

      I certainly hope so, the prosecutor and witnesses had best watch their backs.

  6. NevahHappen March 10, 2018 10:50 am Reply

    Most corrupt political couple EVER.

  7. Tom March 10, 2018 1:18 pm Reply

    Wow, right wing media and their fake news/conspiracy theories seemed to have succeeded. Pizzagate has already been fully debunked, ghost. How does democracy work when so many voting citizens lack basic critical thinking, cannot sort fact from fiction, and eat up propaganda? I think there should be some sort of competency test for voting; otherwise you get the disaster that is Trump. Clinton far from perfect, but not as bad as the crazies in this comments section claim with the fake news they have been fed by Fox News and conspiracy theorists (including our Conspiracy-Theorist-in-Chief). SAD!

    1. 4whatitsworth March 10, 2018 2:51 pm Reply

      Yes how does democracy work when so many voting citizens lack basic critical thinking, and cannot sort fact from fiction? …. I suppose I can see a good reason for a future president to bleach bit a server that had classified information on it once it is was subpoenaed. I might even believe that Bill Clinton a former president that was impeached met with Loretta Lynch on the tarmac in Phoenix just to catch up and not to interfere with a legal matter or obstruct justice. I suppose I could even look the other way while Hillary lied about Benghazi. Unfortunately I don’t think I can get past the Clintons basically buying the Democratic party, rigging the primary, and slandering Bernie Sanders. The quality of leadership matters and having the best candidate possible from both parties matters to our democracy.

      Does anyone else wonder why the Clinton foundation has suddenly been shut down now that the they can no longer give away U.S. resources and broker power?

      1. Paul Chapman March 10, 2018 4:35 pm Reply

        Amen Brother

    2. Freddy King March 11, 2018 8:51 pm Reply

      Hey Tom, where can I find you? Or ae you too chicken to say?… cahonies?

      1. Tom March 12, 2018 8:41 am Reply

        Sorry, not in Russia like you. I should have added that you folks are not just pawns of the right wing media and the rich (who use your votes to then rig the economy more for them and deregulate so they can exploit the American people), but also of our rival Russia. So, you’re either Russian or just a traitor. Even Steve Bannon knows a traitor when he sees one (as he described the Trump Administration meeting with Russians).

  8. onceawarrior March 10, 2018 1:32 pm Reply

    Many readers find complimentary remarks more pleasurable than disparaging comments.

    1. Freddy King March 11, 2018 8:55 pm Reply

      These two being the exception

  9. KansasGirl March 10, 2018 1:37 pm Reply

    Trying to soften the thugs images….I see. Grrrrr

  10. Big ideas March 10, 2018 4:50 pm Reply

    Should have left them.

  11. Buds4All March 11, 2018 4:54 pm Reply

    Clintons please never return!

  12. Freddy King March 11, 2018 8:45 pm Reply

    Somebody sure missed their chance.

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