It boggles the mind that someone gets paid to experience things like this first hand.
Capt. Shahn Rashid of the United States Air Force works atop Maui's famous Mount Haleakala at the Maui Space Surveillance Complex, one of three locations of the Ground-Based Electro-Optical Deep-Space Surveillance Network, or GEODSS. Their task, to put it very, very simply, is to gaze up at the heavens and ensure satellites and space junk don't collide.
In a beautifully shot and edited time-lapse video for Airman, the official magazine of the U.S. Air Force, we all get to see what Rashid does: a perfect symphony of rolling clouds, calibrating telescopes, shooting satellites, and setting suns.
"We spent 16-hour days on top of the volcano," producer Andrew Breese told National Geographic. "It's a two-and-a-half hour drive [up the volcano to the base] with hairpin turns. It's rainy and cold, 43 degrees [Fahrenheit] in October."
Like Mauna Kea on the Big Island -- where it recently snowed! -- Mount Haleakala's landscape is a far cry from the tropical beaches usually associated with Hawaii. But the elevation (10,000 feet), dry, clear air (atmospheric pressure of 71 kPa/533 mm Hg), and absence of any nearby city lights, makes it one of the most sought-after locations in the world for stargazing.
We can see why: