Are any of you nearing retirement (as I am) or already retired who might be interested in moving to an astronomy-oriented retirement community? If you are, I encourage you to join the moderated Groups.io discussion group Dark-Sky Communities at
I am working to establish such a community and would value your input and assistance. That work involves extensive research, networking, writing articles in various publications to reach a wider audience, finding a suitable developer, and seeking benefactors.
Some characteristics of the community I envision include:
- Rural location with a dark night sky, but not too far from a city with decent medical facilities, preferably to the northeast or northwest;
- Location with an abundance of clear nights and mild winters, probably in Arizona, New Mexico, or West Texas;
- Lighting within the community that does not interfere with astronomical activities, strictly enforced;
- Community is owned and operated by a benefit corporation or cooperative that will rent a house or apartment to each resident;
- Observatories will be available for rental by interested residents who will equip them;
- Pro-am collaborative research opportunities will be developed and nurtured;
- A community observatory and a public observatory for astronomy outreach will be constructed and maintained;
- Lodging will be available for visitors and guests;
- There will be opportunities for on-site income operating and maintaining the community or, alternatively, a reduction in monthly rental fees.
Many of us have spent a significant amount of time and energy over the years trying to rein in light pollution in our respective communities and in the wider world, with varying degrees of success. Those efforts should continue, but the grim reality is that light pollution is continuing to get worse almost everywhere.
The opportunity to live in a community of varied interests but with a common appreciation for the night sky and a natural nighttime environment will appeal to many of us. Furthermore, a dark-sky community will afford us opportunities to show the world at large a better way to live.
Traditionally, in the United States at least, if one wants to live under a dark and starry night sky, your only options are to purchase land and build a house on it, or purchase an existing rural home. Not only is buying and maintaining rural real estate unaffordable or impractical for many, many would prefer to live in a rural community, provided that the night sky and nighttime environment are vigorously protected. Rental will also make it easier to move into and out of the community as circumstances change.