Re: Dark Site Exploratory Committee

Richard Saunders


Thank you very much for the comments/information!  All of your points are well taken and will certainly be part of any consideration on going forward to explore the idea.   The dollar amounts you mention that might be assessed to individuals interested in building a site are reasonable, i.e., it would probably cost somewhere in that range per person assuming that the effort rode solely on them.  That methodology of procuring funding is not, however, how I see it happening.  Heck, I don't have that kind of money myself to contribute and I doubt the great majority of the membership does either.  Further, though there could certainly be some amount of funding contributed by the club and/or individual members that are financially able to do so (with no strings attached except maybe the observatory dome being named after them! - Ha, ha!), the site would be for all BBAA members, not just those who contributed.  

I don't see it as a viable project without outside financial assistance that could take the form(s) of a grant, go-fund me site, corporate donation, etc.  I also think that we'd start out with a site like they have at my old club, Ponchartrain Astronomy Society in New Orleans, where they have improved access, paved parking lot, 10 person bunkroom, electric power, pavilion and a 3-meter Dome (see attached picture).  We would grow as funding allows and start with just a plot of land as far away from light pollution as feasible, 3 acres plus or minus, that had reasonable access/parking and a good sized open area for observing.  After that, improvements are made as funding allows in priority order determined by the club.   

Thanks again for your input.  Good stuff to consider.  Best of luck to you at your new site when you move.  I'm sure you'll be missed by all.

Best regards,


On November 26, 2020 at 7:05 AM charles jagow <chuck@...> wrote:



The BBAA did look into securing a dark sight within a two hour drive of the Tidewater area down in SE North Carolina.  I was a member of that committee, however, in my recent PURGE of things no longer needed due to my impending retirement, I deleted all of my electronic and printed material on the effort.


Initially it looked like it was going to cost the interested members about $2K-$5K each to get things rolling and if memory serves we had almost twenty interested people, however, once we found out how much the minor improvements would be, crushed gravel and culverts for a roadway in/out of the property, surveying costs, a monthly port-a-potty rental, getting electrical to the site and a mish mash of other things quickly brought the price per interested party closer to $9K-$12K.  Then interested parties started dropping out due to the prospective increase in cost, this further increased the prospective costs.  The final blow was when we discovered that we could just go camping at the campground where we enjoyed the East Coast Star Party at was open and available for about $25 a day (Now the campground is operated by KOA and is considerably more to camp).  So we abandoned the project as the number of interested parties dwindled to two, I was one of them. 


Sorry I can’t be of much help, my interest in the project is zero, as I am moving to very dark skies in just a few months after my retirement.


However, if you want to take a look at a successful such adventure, go checkout the SDAA website at this is the club that inspired me.  I was member of this club as I travelled for work to/from San Diego area OFTEN for my work and kept a Meade ETX-125 in storage out there.  Their observing site is named Tierra Del Sol and is located East of San Diego into the Laguna Seca mountains about 110 miles SE of San Diego.



Member #1495 – Norfolk County Rifle Range


From: <> on behalf of Richard Saunders <rsaun58043@...>
Reply-To: <>
Date: Wednesday, November 25, 2020 at 3:54 PM
To: <>
Subject: [BackBayAstro] Dark Site Exploratory Committee


Hi everyone,

At the November's virtual club meeting there was a proposal and discussion about BBAA taking the leap to purchase it's own dark site.  I volunteered to chair an exploratory committee to look into the possibility.  Establishment of the committee was approved of course or you wouldn't be getting this email.   

There might be several advantages to having our own site and you might be able to come up with a few more than are listed below.  Of course, it would be prudent to come up with a list of why it wouldn't be a good idea as well and weigh the two before going forward.  Some of the positive reasons might be:

1.  The potential for darker skies, less light pollution 

2.  Ability to hold public or private member-only activities

3.  It might be a good recruiting tool to increase membership

4.  The possibility to develop the property when feasible to enhance observing and camaraderie such as having improved parking, building an observatory (RORO or Dome), on-site storage shed, picnic pavilion, bunk room, electrical power, restroom facility, etc... 

Some of the negative reasons might be:

1.  Site would require effort from club members to maintain.

2.  Would there be future development that might diminish the site's advantages for being dark?

3.  Security might be an issue depending on how the property is developed

4.  Naturally, it would cost $$$ to build and maintain.  Perhaps we might be able to get a grant or find another way to procure the funds.  Other than the land, perhaps 3 total acres or so, initial maintenance cost would probably be very low to none.  The costs would only start increasing as we developed the site. 

5.  Property taxes?  Could we get an exemption?

6.  We'd probably have to form as some legal entity, e.g., LLC, for financial and liability reasons. 

Well, these are just a few thoughts.  If you are interested in participating on the committee, let me know at the email below.  I'll report to the group at the December virtual telcon if there is any interest in getting an exploratory committee established and if there is, I will plan an initial Zoom telcon in January to get things started.   If there isn't any interest, and I'm talking about at least 5 folks, i.e., a minimum number to make it a viable committee, well that's fine as there's lots to be said for how we are operating now!


Scott Saunders

P.S.  If you can think of additional positives and/or negatives, regardless of whether you might like to be a member of the committee or not, just send 'em my way!  Thanks.

My email is rsaun58043@....  





Chuck Jagow

Treasurer - Back Bay Amateur Astronomers

Rott'n Paws Observatory

    N36:46:23.281 W076:13:31.512



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