Re: Notes on Magdalena, New Mexico, and the Route 60 Corridor

David Oesper

Thanks for your note, John. I think we met at Yerkes many years ago, and I am looking forward to visiting you there in Magdalena as soon as the pandemic subsides.

I’ve visited Socorro, Magdalena, the VLA, and Pie Town, and I love the area. It is also a big plus that Socorro is home to New Mexico Tech and Socorro General Hospital.

I think we should definitely consider locating Mirador Astronomy Village along the Route 60 corridor. It makes good sense to locate Mirador in an area where there is already a significant infrastructure and interest in astronomy. Two other areas we are currently looking at are the Big Bend region of West Texas (home of the McDonald Observatory), and the Hwy 9 corridor in SW New Mexico.

Another, much less expensive, way to create Mirador or something similar to it that I’ve been considering would be to “adopt” an existing small town if they would be willing to adopt us. This could really help the local economy, but the existing residents would have to be on board with the idea and be willing to make some changes such as enacting a lighting ordinance. And we would need to be truly engaged with the existing community and their needs and desires so that it is a win-win situation. It looks like you have already made a lot of progress towards this in Magdalena, so I'm really looking forward to my visit there soon.

You bring up an excellent point about observatory communities at all the remote professional observatories. We could learn a great deal from them. I am somewhat familiar with the McDonald Observatory community. I thoroughly enjoyed helping with star parties (volunteer) and conducting special viewing nights (for pay) on the 36” and the 82” Struve telescopes. Oh, do I miss that!

Wow, there aren’t very many people on this planet that can say that they’ve spent a winter at the South Pole! I’d love to hear about your experience and what you learned about remote living in an inhospitable environment sometime! Though the desert southwest is far more hospitable (even in mid-summer) than Antarctica was, I’m sure much of what you learned would apply to Mirador or any other remote community.

Thanks for mentioning Stellafane and the Springfield Telescope Makers. We should probably contact them to get their insights about Mirador.

Thanks for including the photo of the FOAH Observatory and environs. To those of you who are interested in learning more about this observatory and are curious about what FOAH stands for (as I was), see here:

You’ll also learn a little more about John and his interesting pursuits!


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