We get ready for a night of big time deep-sky observing at Rancho Hidalgo, near Granite Gap. David J. Eicher photoIn addition, nearby Native American sites include cave pictographs. Mining history and lore is a staple of the area, too, and Turner owns several defunct silver and copper mines that will be opened up for education. The region is steeped in western history, with Billy the Kid, the Clantons and Earps (of the nearby O.K. Corral drama), Cochise, Curly Bill Brocius, Johnny Ringo, and many others frequenting the area in the old days. As if that weren’t enough, plans are afoot for adding a golf course to the site down the line. With the enthusiastic endorsement of world-famous planetary scientist Carolyn Shoemaker, Turner is also putting together Shoemaker Discovery Park at Cave Creek Canyon, near Portal, Arizona (a short distance from Granite Gap) offers spectacular scenery and birding. David J. Eicher photoGranite Gap, which will feature big-scale model rocketry, a huge simulated impact crater to explore and learn about (along with meteorites that kids can dig up), and other features that will pay tribute to Carolyn’s husband, Gene Shoemaker (1928–1997), the father of impact geology and, along with Carolyn and Astronomy Contributing Editor David H. Levy, co-discoverer of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. The nearby Rancho Hidalgo site also holds Clyde Tombaugh’s 16-inch telescope. In 1930, he discovered Pluto; Pluto Park now holds his telescope — a great planetary instrument — and pays homage to Tombaugh. For more on this remarkable development, see http://www.granitegap.com/.Archeology is everywhere in the region: I found this Native American stone ax head, perhaps 1,500 years old, which I turned over to Turner for his onsite cultural museum. David J. Eicher photoA background story by Senior Editor Michael Bakich also appears in the September 2010 issue of Astronomy on page 60, “A night at Granite Gap.”Stay tuned for more reports on this development, which promises to deliver what we all dream about — a supremely dark sky — in a reasonably easy way, for the first time ever.
The Granite Gap area is steeped in history: Inside this kitchen in the Grant Hotel at Shakespeare Ghost Town, Billy the Kid worked as a dishwasher and floor sweeper after his family moved to nearby Silver City. Here, Chris and Lynda Eicher inspect the property. David J. Eicher photo
Please allow me to express my personal joy about discovering the Granite Gap project as simply the amateur astronomer's dream. This development has given me a new direction in my retirement years. In spirit, I'm already there! Thank you Astronomy magazine.
Took the words right out of my mouth, shadowfox!
A cool development. You won't have to worry about termites, but keep the dust covers handy. Get the State to declare the entire area a vapor light free astronomical preserve. Don't neglect security, if you have a lot of expensive stuff out there. The bad guys might have night vision equipment, so they don't need headlights to drive cross country with 4 wheel drive trucks. Unlikely, but possible. Good job. I'm impressed.