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Distant Skies Observatory at Granite Gap, NM

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#1 tedbnh

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 03:07 PM

I'd like to share a couple of pics of the foundation for my ROR observatory at the Granite Gap Astronomy site in NM. I have decided to call it Distant Skies Observatory, because it is not only going to show me objects very far away, it is also pretty far from my home in New Hampshire. :-)

It will be a ROR with the upper part of the walls attached to the roof, allowing a shorter remaining wall height when the roof is rolled away. Dimensions are 16'x24' with a warming room.

Once construction is under way an additional 12' square slab will be poured to the SE, even with the floor, so the 18" dob can be rolled out through double doors for observing in nice weather.

I'll post more pics as they become available.

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#2 Chris Boar

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 05:08 PM

Well that skyline sucks.

Don't think you will see much there! :grin:

#3 rigel123

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 05:28 PM

Wow, that looks like an amazing setup! Are you planning to outfit it to remotely operate as well? Or do you just have a ton of frequent flyer miles!

#4 LoveChina61

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 07:23 PM

Will you leave the back wall at its full height and only roll off part of the walls on three sides? How much of the wall will roll off along with the roof (2 feet, 3 feet,..)?

It would be neat to see that section of your design drawings if you feel comfortable sharing it.

#5 Chris Boar

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 12:16 AM

Hey Ted,

A bit off-topic but are there any other fees involved with Granite Gap beyond the initial lot fee? E.g. monthly maint fees, etc. How do utility bills work?

Thanks. Really interested in this, can't believe the price of $2500 for a lot!

#6 rigel123

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 10:16 AM

Hey Ted,

A bit off-topic but are there any other fees involved with Granite Gap beyond the initial lot fee? E.g. monthly maint fees, etc. How do utility bills work?

Thanks. Really interested in this, can't believe the price of $2500 for a lot!


And $14,500 for a cabin!

#7 tedbnh

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 01:04 PM

The obs. is oriented with long axis E-W with the warm room on the W side, since the prevailing winds are out of that direction in this part of NM. (So far all of the GG structures are built this way, although some are going to be N-S in the future.)

The design is for 5' of the long walls to be fixed and the upper 2' to roll off with the roof. This will give better views in all directions except due E and W due to the overall length of the structure (24' E to W). The E gable end will be fixed and will not move. For observing directly to the E or W or near the horizon I will roll the dob outside to the observing slab which will have full views except back toward the observatory.

I'm attaching my sketches as a PDF file, of course comments are welcome. You can see several completed observatories in the background of the original picture, but I think mine will be the first to have part of the walls roll off too. There are about 100 of these sites in total, each on 1/4 acre of leased land (99 year lease). There are also going to be RV sites. I am not affiliated with GG other than being an observatory site owner (lessee actually, for 99 years). GG is an educational corporation, they are also building a museum, doing a lot of outreach to the local schools, etc.

For now, I'll be occasionally flying on Southwest Airlines to El Paso (3 hour drive to GG) to stay for about a week at at a time. No plans at the moment to make it remotely operated, although maybe in the future. It was a tough decision to build so far from home but in the end the skies and remoteness, plus the community of other observers, won me over (and of course my wife liked the place too even though she has no interest in astronomy!) We got the option that includes 6 months of lodging per year in one of the group of Park Model homes that will be set up near the observatories.

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#8 csa/montana

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 02:03 PM

We got the option that includes 6 months of lodging per year in one of the group of Park Model homes that will be set up near the observatories.



Ted, congratulations; sure have all the bases covered! :waytogo:

#9 jmasin

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 03:52 PM

I've been speaking with those guys as well and plan a visit in January to make a final decision on a plot.

It's nice to see that someone else on here has started moving forward.

My biggest concern is security with so many thousands of equipment there... how does that feel when there?

#10 LoveChina61

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 08:04 AM

Excellent design! Thanks for sharing.

#11 Chris Boar

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 06:14 PM

Well thanks to this thread I've just gone an brought a lot at Granite Gap!, Holy #$%^# This will be retirement pad....:-)

#12 mikey cee

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 08:58 PM

Distant Skies?? I'd call it Distant Horizons!! :question: :roflmao: Mike

#13 tedbnh

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 04:33 PM

I guess we won't know until we get there and start loading things in. There is going to be a full-time manager on site, people in the Park Models, people in their RVs, and of course people in their observatories. Hopefully that's enough to deter would-be thieves. However, I'm getting an insurance policy rider that covers my gear. My Allstate agent offers it for $0.57 per year per $100 of value. That's $28.50/yr for a $5000 scope, no deductible. Only restriction - no coverage for items that begin with "i" (think ipad, iphone...)

I've been speaking with those guys as well and plan a visit in January to make a final decision on a plot.

It's nice to see that someone else on here has started moving forward.

My biggest concern is security with so many thousands of equipment there... how does that feel when there?



#14 Far-Out

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 01:45 AM

Hello,
My name is Larry I haven't made very many posts but I hang out on this site every once in a while. I took the voyage last January to visit Granite Gap I meet with Gene and he was gracious enough to give me a Jeep tour of Granite Gap. First of all the place is beautiful and about 3 or 4 hour drive from Tucson,Az airport. I liked the place and will probably return this winter to see how its progressing. I took many pictures of the site cabins,observatory, it was all very cool.

#15 nytecam

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 05:09 PM

Nice project Tom - love those horizons. Security seems to be covered by insurance but I'd still need a fence to set a boundary from wildlife or pets :o.

Just interested...
1] how do you seal the gap between the RoR gable and the warm room?

2] Will the observing deck be set at a slightly lower level to the concrete slab as you pic? Just thinking of ingress of [any] rainwater into ob!

Good luck :rainbow:

#16 Avi

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 06:17 PM

Living in Southeastern Arizona made the decision to purchase a lot at Granite Gap a no-brainer for the wife and I.

Our first step is getting a travel trailer, and then I'll start saving up for an observatory. Eventually we'll put a small cabin on our pad.

Only reason we didn't go for the cabin is it's more a timeshare in that other people would be using the cabin. Gene informed us that later on down the road, we could set our own small "park model" cabin on our RV lot.

Didn't know you could built the observatories yourself - thought they had to be pro-built ( BYO, etc.) Also thought the observatories were limited to 12x12? When did they start allowing larger observatories?

#17 helmswatch

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 07:52 AM

Going out to Granite Gap in a couple of days and finally meet Gene. Anybody from here out there yet?
Duke

#18 Starhawk

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 12:12 PM

This business where no one involved actually owns the property seems a bit odd to me.

Neat area, though.

-Rich

#19 Phil Sherman

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 02:44 PM

I have a full year lease for an RV lot and expect to be there for a few weeks at a time two or three times a year, possibly more often. The RV lot lease includes a separate site for an observatory. The standard ROR observatories that Gene will build for the leasees have an equipment room with space for two piers and a separate warm room. The basic leasing concept has two leasees for each lot; each having six months use of the lot and observatory. The two pier observatories will easily accommodate two separate scopes.

Once everything is up and running; there should be people on site all the time. There's full time on site caretaker couple who live in the old farmhouse. A section of the farmhouse has been set up as a "clubhouse" for the visiting observatory owners. The area is very sparsely populated and, other than the roads, is impassible to traverse without a 4-wheel drive vehicle. It would be very very difficult to get a vehicle into observatory row and empty out one or more of the buildings without being observed. Anyone trying to do this at night will need lights and will be immediately obvious to anyone observing.

There's also a few people setting up remote observatories. One of them has installed external cameras. I'll be making recommendations for additional security the next time I'm there, probably in September.

The only phone carrier with good service coverage in the area is Verizon. Verizon has the contract with the local co-op to provide service for the valley. My Sprint service terminates about 2mi up the road from GG. ATT service is possible with special antennas and is functioning for another observatory owner. I may be able to get Sprint service using the same antenna setup as the ATT user since the Sprint antenna is located on the same tower as the ATT one.

Internet service is currently being provided via a high speed packet radio link to Rancho Hidalgo, around 12mi as the crow flies. Separate networks are being installed for observatory and RV area use. Observatory internet service is intended for remote control during observing hours. The entire valley is wired with fibre optic cable, courtesy of the US government and border security. The local phone company has stated that fibre optic lines to Granite Gap will be installed in couple of years.

Phil

#20 helmswatch

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Posted 05 July 2012 - 01:57 PM

Kim and I just got back from Granite Gap and we are purchasing a park model and a RV site. We are excited about moving there to live year round and become involved with all the community will have to offer. The developer, Gene Turner, is fully committed to this project and I am confident, that Granite Gap will become the "Goto" dark sky destination and the standard by which astronomical communities will be gauged.

#21 rockethead26

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 12:29 PM

Ted,

Is your observatory finished yet?

I just spent an hour on the phone with Gene, the developer. After our discussion, my wife and I signed on for two 6-month RV leases, giving us a year round RV site and two 1/4 acre observatory sites.

Since there are a couple of us that bought year-round access, Gene is thinking of eventually moving all the year-rounders to separate area and opening up the possibility of allowing permanent living structures. That would be nice, but our decision wasn't based on that.

The educational emphasis of this development is one of the reasons we signed on. They have programs in development with several universities across the country to take advantage of the local riches in astronomy, geology and archeology.

We're pretty excited about this. We may not get out there until we return to Flagstaff in mid-2014, but we know it's waiting for us. It's a nice 7 hour drive from Flagstaff, so until retirement, it will be great for 1-2 week get-a ways.

#22 jmasin

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:35 PM

Awesome and congrats. Jim, welcome!

I bought in early last year, and like you probably won't build anything for a while... like dark skies in my pocket for when I'm ready!

My sand is in G8...

#23 rockethead26

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:15 PM

Hi Jon! We shouldn't de-rail Ted's thread, but our observatories will be neighbors. I'm on H8 and H9.

Back to Ted's observatory...

#24 helmswatch

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Posted 11 February 2014 - 04:06 PM

I am Duke and I and my wife, Kim are the caretakers of Granite Gap. We live on site in the farmhouse/clubhouse. We are working hard to make anyone's visit a pleasant one and look forward to meeting everyone. Feel free to call us anytime at 321-987-4001 or email us at helmswatch@gmail.com. Our two RVs are parked next to the farmhouse and anyone is welcome to use them. Activity at RH is picking up and will pick up here very soon. Gene is preparing crews at RH and once they he is satisfied with their skills, he will be sending them up here where Kim and I will monitor progress.

This is a huge project and has had it's ups and downs, but I have never met harder working people nor more dedicated people than Gene and Loy.

Come on out and visit.

Sincerely,
Duke & Kim






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