Astronomers Create Their Own Stargazing Dark Sky Communities

by Nelda_Hoxie

Live in one of these astronomy villages and get the best view of nearby planets, galaxies and far away universes

Anyone who has tried to use a telescope in the eastern portion of the United States knows how much light pollution there is from cities and large-scale uses such as airports. The glow from these can travel for hundreds of miles and obscure the night sky. Some astronomers have banded together to preserve this important view. They have founded communities in dark sky areas. Using innovative land development techniques they are preserving as much of their dark sky as they can.

Most of these developments have large open fields that they share with the public. For small annual or daily fees, astronomers can observe the night sky and share the fellowship of fellow astronomy enthusiasts.

Astronomy Communities Preserve Dark Skies

A new trend in niche communities

A group of astronomers purchased 100 acres of land in Sharon, Georgia and created the planned community of Deerlick Astronomy Village. No you don't have to be retired to live in Deerlick, however it does help not to have a job to go to after you've been up all night stargazing. Residents take their non-traditional sleep schedules so seriously that homeowner covenants prohibit them from owning roosters. Who wants to hear a rooster crowing at 5am after a night of serious astronomy?

Four Goals of the Deerlick Astronomy Village owners

1.The community encourages individual ownership of home lots and observatory lots.

2. Support amateur astronomers by leasing any available observatories.

3. Establish and preserve a large common observation area for residents and members of the public.

4. Enact land covenants and rules to protect the night sky and prevent light pollution.

See Deerlick Astronomy Village

Ohio State Offers an Astronomy Online Degree

Create an Amazing Second Act for Your Life

If you've always loved astronomy, built your own telescopes and spent nights camping in wilderness areas to see the night sky, then take advantage of online learning opportunities. Image living in an astronomy village and pursuing an astronomy degree online. Many residents who live in these subdivisions have home observatories. Sharing your learning experience with them would be the best of local community participation and online learning.

Annual Field Membership

You don't have to buy a lot to participate in the Deerlick Astronomy Village. They have created an Annual Field Membership. It lets people to camp out on the field or in the nearby forest. There are electrical hook-ups throughout the field area to facilitate using astronomy equipment. There is a bathouse with hot showers available. A picnic pavillion has a barbecue and there is a warm-up shed that also has a micro-wave, refrigerator and DSL internet that covers the entire field.

Many Chiefland residents have their own observatories

Private observatory owned by Chiefland resident
Private observatory owned by Chiefland resident

Chiefland Astronomy Village

Over-55 Community in Northwest Florida

At least one person in the household has to be over 55 years-old to buy a home in the Chiefland Astronomy Village. No one who is under the age of 18 may live there. However to say that this is a retirement community is so wrong. The small community has 25 homes - 18 of them contain sophisticated astronomy observatories. 

This laid back community doesn't have a homeowner's association or many rules. Club meetings are held under the stars on the New Moon weekend of every month. They also allow outsiders to use their field. People have to pay the small fee of $5 a person per night. RV owners are asked to contribute more. 

They have very few rules and expect people to be respectful of each other. Because the site attracts astronomers, who need power, tent visitors will find 100 20-amp electrical outlets. The 9 RV sites have 30-amp outlets. The sites are on a first-come basis. No reservations are taken. While the weekends are very busy, they also have visitor who come for the entire week. 

Housing is Affordable in Chiefland

2013 Median Home Price $70,000

Chiefland is a small rural community located 30 miles west of Gainesville. In 2000, it was voted the Best Rural Community in Florida. There is still very little development pressure and the median home price in 2013 was only $70,000. So you can trade in a more expensive house for a very affordable model. 

That's good for would-be astronomers. Even though the Chiefland Astronomy Village is full, it's still possible to live nearby, use the field and become an active member of the astronomy community.

New Mexico Astronomy Village

Residents of the Chiefland Astronmy Village Go West

It's not easy finding dark night sky that is easily accessible or that provides basic amenities or aging Boomers such as health care. However, it is easier in New Mexico. In 1999, state lawmakers enacted regulations to protect their dark skies.

That's one of the things that attracted Tom and Jeannie Clark to the area. Their development is located 20 miles north of Deming, NM and 30 mile south of Silver City. It has clear skies about 300 nights a year. Star gazers who want to stay in touch with the world will find excellent cell services. 

The Clarks have been astronomers since 1983. They lived at the Chiefland Astronomy Village for 14 years, before they set their sights on the west. Tom founded and published Amateur Astonomy Magazine from 1994 to 2007. They have lived at the New Mexico Astronomy Village for two years. They have been joined by five astronomy families. They hope eventually that their stargazing community will contain 50 families.

Updated: 02/07/2015, Nelda_Hoxie
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Nelda_Hoxie on 05/24/2015

I agree. It's sad that we don't appreciate our sky views more.

CruiseReady on 05/24/2015

This is the first I have heard of astronomy villages. What a neat concept! I am always amazed at the night sky when we visit the family farm, or go out to sea. There's so much to see above your head that might as well be invisible in the city, or even a small town!

Nelda_Hoxie on 02/14/2015

It' really is becoming a problem. When I was a town planner, how much night lighting is truly needed became very controversial. Of course one of my planning board members was a salesman for GE!

sheilamarie on 02/10/2015

We have dark skies around us. I love to watch the night sky.

dustytoes on 02/10/2015

What an interesting subject. I've never considered that stargazers need nice, dark skies to view the stars.

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