Welcome to The NMAV 
The New Mexico Astronomy vi llage
Founded 9/2010

Location  32.5°N, 107.99°W


The Good

The area where we bought property is a flat scenic valley at 4830' elevation with beautiful mountains in the distance, but not close enough to cause seeing problems. The area has mostly clear skies much of the year. This underdeveloped neighborhood started selling five acre lots around 30 years ago. Out of 84 total lots, many have been sold, but only 15 had homes on them.  20 miles of out town is a bit far out for working people to live and there is no shortage of cheap land close to town for those who are not looking for dark skies.

The development is 20 miles north of Deming, and 30 miles south of Silver City on highway 180, near the City of Rocks State Park. The land is fairly flat grasslands, with deer, antelope, and lots of small critters including coyotes. Our land is 3/4 mile off the pavement, on well maintained county roads. Only 20 minutes to town. Of course there is a Super Wal-Mart and lots of other stores. Deming also has some good restaurants, doctors, and a hospital.

The sky is dark, and the stars are brilliant. We have observed from the property with our 16" - 42" telescopes, and the seeing and transparency are usually excellent.

Cell service is excellent. Four bars on my Verizon phone. The tower is three miles to the north. The white strobe light turns red in the evening. Internet can be either phone modem, cell card, or satellite. I have a 4G MiFi that works very well.

New Mexico has lighting laws passed in 1999 (Night Sky Protection Act  NMSA1978  ARTICLE 12 )  that say any new outdoor lighting of 150 watts or larger must be full cutoff.


In the fall of 2010 we ended a six month tour of the west, looking for the perfect place to relocate our 42" go-to Dobsonian.  We moved to darker, drier, and more transparent skies with good seeing - the kind of skies astronomers have always dreamed about! We had been observing in the west many times over the years, and we are well aware of the effect the wonderful transparency of the dry desert skies has on both visual observing and imaging. We learned that the seeing is far better on level grasslands than rocky mountainous areas!

After 14 years of living at the Chiefland Astronomy Village in Florida, Tom and Jeannie Clark moved to New Mexico in March of 2012. We built our new home and are looking for more astronomers to become our neighbors. Living in an astronomy village was a very enjoyable experience that we hope to continue in New Mexico.

This 'astronomy village' is informal. No one is in charge, or trying to make a profit from your moving here. The  five+ acre lots for sale from the original developer are listed at reasonable prices (See the lot layout in the red blocks below). There are also some re-sales  available. We hope to have around 50 astronomy families in the area in the not-too-distant future!

Here are some of the requirements we were looking for:

  1. 1.   Black skies on the light pollution maps

  2. 2.   No miles and miles of rough dirt roads. One mile max was our limit.

  3. 3.   Good seeing

  4. 4.   Good transparency

  5. 5.   Low humidity

  6. 6.   Room for other astronomers to move to the area

  7. 7.   Good restaurants and grocery stores less than 1/2 hour away

  8. 8.   A reasonable year round climate.

  9. 9.   An affordable area with low taxes

  10. 10.  Golf courses and other activities close by. (We are not hermits)

  11. 11.  Able to park your RV on your property

  12. 12.  An astronomy club nearby

  13. 13.  Plenty of room for astronomy friends to visit and observe

  14. 14.  Hospitals and medical care close by

Light pollution chart
Astronomy Forecast



We found many places that had dark skies but did not work out for many reasons:

We fell in love with Flagstaff, AZ (6800') until learning about the 200" average yearly snowfall, and hearing that it is under 30˚ over one-half the nights of the year.

The Cloudcroft area (9000') sounded great until looking at the light-pollution maps. Study the climate and it is very cold for a good part of the year. Land was for sale around New Mexico Skies (7000') Only $175,000 for two-acre lots! A bit expensive? They also have way too many restrictions. Decent grocery stores are one hour away. No modular homes: Expensive homes only.

Rancho Hidalgo (4450') sounded good, but heard that they had sold out already. Again an hour or more to decent stores like Wal-Mart or Home Depot. Now Rancho Hildalgo has failed, it has closed down.

In most parts of the country, by the time you find dark skies with good seeing, you are far from civilization, health care, restaurants, and the mall. Good paved roads do not go out there. We looked at many places that had horrible rough roads that an RV could not navigate. We started looking in New Mexico because it has a low population density and it is a low-tax state. A state-wide lighting ordinance was enacted in 1999. They know they have dark skies and want to protect them.   

We first learned about the Silver City area (6000') by searching for astronomy clubs in New Mexico. The Silver City Astronomical Society (SCAS) was an active club (unfortunately it has since disbanded).  We met some members and started exploring the area.  After a month of looking around Silver, and looking at property in all directions, we picked a location (4830') between Silver City and Deming, that would be suitable for the new observatory for our 42", and purchased our property. We moved to the site in March of 2012.

The Bad

The land is flat. Flat means light domes in the distance.  All domes are low and unobtrusive on clear nights.

The Deming (population 15,000) light dome is about 5-10 degrees high in the SE. Las Cruces is dim but detectable from 60 miles away to the E-SE. West is black. The Silver City (population 12,000) can barely be seen 30 miles N. If you plant a few trees, as some of the neighbors have done, you will see nothing but black sky…

There is a tiny 'Rest Area' on the highway, with a few lights. The few parking lot lights are full cut-off lights with no sky glow, but two small ones on the side of the rest rooms are not shielded.

There are a few 'yard lights' in the development and about a dozen neighbors in a one-mile square area.  We observed from the area, and the neighbor's light interference is minimal. We positioned our house and workshop to block the lights that can be seen from our lot. The house and workshop also block lights from highway 180. As our astronomy community grows we hope to be able to eliminate some of the lights, and we are already working with the county lighting board.

I may be over-emphasizing the light domes and local lights, but want to tell the truth. A few trees and shrubs can totally eliminate any lights from your property, including the light night traffic on 180.

We will plant shrubs to shade our property and dome from highway and neighbor's lights. If you are an imager and build a roll-off roof observatory, you should not have to worry about any lights and will enjoy nearly perfect skies…

We lived on site five months in our motorhome while our shop was being built in 2011, and again while waiting for our new home to arrive in 2012. We moved into the new home in late May, and started construction on our new observatory in July.

These buttons are  all links to additional  pages of information about the area. Check them out.

Imagine a place 4830' above sea level, where the sky is BLACK, the seeing is GOOD, and the transparency is FANTASTIC. Imagine your 16" performing like a 24", and a 24" acting like a 40". Imagine how your telescope will perform under our dry, transparent skies –  an astronomer's dream!

The weather is pretty mild year round – not too hot in the summer and not too cold in the winter. At altitude it is cool at night and warm in the afternoons. It's very good for observing and astro-imaging.

The NMAV is under very dark skies - 21.6-21.8 SQM - but only 20 minutes to Deming and 40 minutes to Silver City. Land is inexpensive yet you are not isolated in the middle of nowhere. Decent stores, restaurants, hospitals and civilization are close by!

A paved highway runs right up to the edge of the neighborhood, so there is no bone-jarring, auto destroying dirt roads to get here.  Come join us for a new adventure in astronomy and the best observing of your life!

The City of Rocks State Park is 7 miles from the new astronomy village. They advertise how dark their skies are, and even have a roll-off-roof observatory where they hold astronomy programs for the public. Like to work on public outreach? This is a good place for it, and they are always looking for volunteers.

Tom and Jeannie Clark

Tom and Jeannie have been astronomers since 1983. They lived at the Chiefland Astronomy Village in Florida for 14 years before moving to the NMAV. Under the Tectron name Tom built a couple of hundred large Dobsonians, founded and published Amateur Astronomy Magazine from 1994-2007, and is the author of The Modern Dobsonian and  Starry Starry Nights.

We moved to the NMAV in March of 2012 and have now lived here for four years. We are visual observers and own one of the larger amateur telescopes in the country. Come visit this observing wonderland and we will be happy to show you around.

You can contact the NMAV owners through our Yahoo Group site to arrange for a visit. We have two full hook-up RV sites in our yard for visiting astronomers, and there are motels in both Silver City and Deming.

Come shARE the dream with us!

This was Tom and Jeannie's Florida observatory. It held our 42" telescope from 2002 until early 2012 . The scope is now in New Mexico, and the mirror was refigured by Mike Lockwood while the new observatory was under construction. Come live next to a 42".

So far eight astronomy families have purchased 11 lots at the NMAV in a very short time.  Five astronomy families are living here already, with more moving in soon.  Dozens of others have already visited the site and hope to be able to retire and move here soon.  The NMAV just might turn out to be one of the biggest and best astronomy villages in the country before long. Come join us…

Light Pollution Charthttp://cleardarksky.com/lp/NMAVNMlp.html?Mn=lenseshttp://cleardarksky.com/lp/NMAVNMlp.html?Mn=lensesshapeimage_8_link_0
Clear Sky Clockhttp://cleardarksky.com/c/NMAVNMkey.htmlhttp://cleardarksky.com/lp/NMAVNMlp.html?Mn=lensesshapeimage_9_link_0

Our first little star party 10/12.

Click Here to see construction photos of our 24' dome.

We had first light at the new observatory on 4/5/13.

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The NMAV has been designated a Dark Sky Preserve and new lighting ordinances were added to the restrictive covenants in 2012.

This photo was taken by Mike Lockwood on 6/29/14. 30 seconds f/2@ISO 1600. It shows the Deming light dome behind the carport, and a few lights along I-10 20 miles to the south of the NMAV.

Weather Forecasthttp://www.intellicast.com/Local/Weather.aspx?location=USNM0110shapeimage_13_link_0

Getting ready to retire and thinking about health care?

As we age it becomes important to have decent medical care close by. Doctors and hospitals are close by in both Silver City and Deming. The NMAV is 20 minutes to Deming and 30 minutes to Silver City.

Mimbres Memorial Hospital   

Gila Regional Medical Center