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An Open Letter to All Amateur Astronomers throughout North America.

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#1 csmythies

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Posted 26 September 2021 - 05:52 PM

In the last three years a group of amateur astronomers in the Pacific Northwest have had remarkable success establishing a 30-acre dark sky site in eastern Washington state known as the Goldendale Sky Village (www.goldendaleskyvillage.com). Organized as an LLC, each of its current 46 members have made capital contributions ranging from $5K - $50K and in return they and their families have received the right to use a plot of land within the village, the size of which varies according to the amount contributed. This arrangement has resulted in a close-knit astronomy community where like-minded people can observe together, socialize with each other, and learn their hobby as if they were attending a permanent star party. Sky & Telescope magazine published a short article about us in its October 2020 issue.

 

While eastern Washington has plenty of clear skies in summer, the winter is a different story altogether and, in effect, the observing season is only six months long. I am therefore exploring the possibility of establishing a similarly organized ‘Chiricahua Sky Village’ in southern Arizona, to be privately owned and used by astronomy enthusiasts throughout North America who wish to observe during the winter but are thwarted from doing so on account of bad weather in their home states. There are very dark skies less than two hours’ drive southeast of Tucson, just west of the Chiricahua Mountains where the land is cheap, neighbors are few and far between, and horizons are low.

 

The first step is to gauge the level of interest amongst amateur astronomers everywhere in being a part of such an observing community. If such a concept strikes a chord within you, please contact me.

 

Christopher Smythies
Founder and General Manager
Goldendale Sky Village LLC

Email: csmythies@comcast.net


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#2 AstroPotamus

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 09:40 AM

Having spent a lot of time in and near those mountains, it does strike a chord with me.  But as the owner of a business still recovering from COVID-related losses, both economic and human, now is a not a good time for me to be dropping cash on investments.

 

I would, however, love to be kept abreast of developments with this...development, so if you consider starting a mailing list, I would love to be on it.  Just don't expect me to follow something on social media, because I don't use it.



#3 csmythies

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 01:16 PM

I don't use social media either, but I have started a mailing list. I'm a bit new to Cloudy Nights and so I'm not sure how things are done. Where do I find your name and email address so I can include you? 

 

Christopher



#4 AstroPotamus

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 01:19 PM

I will send you a private message, as should others interested.



#5 dustyc

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 03:05 PM

Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association has a dark sky site in that area. Members can reserve a pad, RV site, etc. 

Maybe cheaper than spending $5K each to duplicate this. 



#6 tsbikes

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 05:43 PM

I have spent a winter in Portal, NM and found an excellent Astronomy experience, especially socially. The virus has kept me away for the last couple of years but I am very interested and also interested in the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association. Please PM me with any pertinent information since I'm looking into another trip this winter.

 

Jim Grimes

AKA tsbikes

tsbikes at gwtc dot net



#7 AstroPotamus

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 07:46 PM

Indeed, I've birded across most of Arizona and Western New Mexico, and Portal/Rodeo are always on the list of stops.  Does anyone know if Sally Spofford is still alive in Portal (if you're a birder, you know the Spoffords).  I spent my honeymoon camping under these skies with the daughter of a man who'd spent his life photographing their landscapes.  I lugged massive amounts of glass around to take wildlife photos and maybe even more massive amounts of slide film to capture it.

 

Now, I'd much rather lug a bunch of AP gear once, set it, forget it, and let the computers do their things while spending time with friends and loved ones.  I always dreamed I would be retiring to this part of the country.  Water being what it is these days, I may need to adjust my expectations, but I think the open skies of the high desert (or the valleys between them) are where I want to take my final breaths, all while staring up at the magnificent void.


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#8 AstroPotamus

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 07:47 PM

I guess I answered my own question.  No, she is no longer with us.  https://en.wikipedia...y_Hoyt_Spofford



#9 csmythies

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Posted 29 September 2021 - 06:28 PM

The main difference between the Chiricahua Astronomy Complex (CAC) and Chiricahua Sky Village (CSV) would be CAC is a nonprofit, open to all TAAA members, and seeks donations while CSV is private and would be supported by the sale of shares. Its members would be able to come and go as they please and be directly responsible for running the place. More skin in the game, as they say. We are considering an initial share price of only $1,000 and in exchange the shareholder would be entitled to use 2,500 square feet of land per share, to be used however they please - e.g. building an observatory.

 

Christopher Smythies


Edited by csmythies, 29 September 2021 - 06:29 PM.



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