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Phlegm saved this image. Bruce Omori and Tom Kuali'i of Extreme Exposure Photography had taken Ryan and I out for a few days of shooting by this point. We were typically up around 2:30am, and playing all day and well past sunset out on the flow. On this particular evening, we shot sunset but weren't yet ready to throw in the towel. A check of Stargazer told us that around 3-4am, many of the planetary elements would be aligning around the plume at the Halema'uma'u crater. So in the wee hours of the morning we trucked up to the National Park, and perched on the overlook at the Visitor Center to see how things were looking.

The answer? Bleak. A cloud deck had rolled over the entire summit of Kilauea, and blanketed the caldera just above the base of the plume, revealing zero sky. We quickly retreated back to the truck to ward off the surprising cold, and figured we might as well just hang out until sunrise in hopes the sun would come up through a small gap on the horizon. The only thing left to do was sleep.

At this point I had been sick for the better part of a month and a half. The nastiest cold/sinus infection I could ever remember having was hanging around in my throat, waiting for me to get tired enough to stage a reunion tour. My trip to Hawaii with just a few hours of sleep per day was Lollapalooza to my annoyed mucus membranes. I drifted in and out of sleep as best I could, but a short time later snapped awake choking on my own snot. I couldn't breathe at all, which got my attention, and when I finally was able to clear my windpipe, I was wide eyed and bushy tailed. A casual glance outside and WHAM! STARS. Trillions of them. Crystal clear skies.

"LET'S ROLL" I hollered, and off we went to shoot the galaxy.

If I hadn't choken on my own phlegm, we might have slept through the show. I've never appreciated a cold as much as I did early that morning.

This is mainly one image, but the base of the plume and the moon were slightly blown out, so a second darker exposure was blended into those two areas. The meteor was just luck.

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