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Astronomy group buys dark-sky site

Citizen Staff Writer



The Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association has taken ownership of a 16-acre parcel south of Willcox where the club will develop a dark-sky observation site.

The group’s monthly meeting on Friday will focus on deep-space photography.

Construction should begin this spring on TAAA’s Astronomy Complex near the town of Sunsites, said Bill Lofquist, the group’s former president.

Initial plans call for building roads to and on the site, electric service, a water system and a restroom, he said.

TAAA hopes to have the basic infrastructure in place by summer, Lofquist said.

The first phase should cost around $100,000, he said.

The site is surrounded by land owned by four TAAA members.

“Our primary concern was protecting the darkness of the area,” he said.

The group is spreading the word about astronomy to its new neighbors.

TAAA has put on star parties, where members set up scopes for the public to use, and held fundraising night sky observation events to benefit the Sunsites Community Library, he said.

“We have been very well received by the community over there,” he said.

Photographs of distant celestial bodies will be the focus of TAAA’s Friday meeting at Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona. The event is open to the public at no charge.

“We have some world-class astrophotographers in our club,” Lofquist said.

“They definitely take photographs that are worthy of the best things that are out there,” said Debra Malmos, the group’s publicist.

“Astronomy Essentials,” a presentation for beginning amateur astronomers that begins at 6:30 p.m., will feature an introduction to astrophotography by Steve Peterson, Malmos said.

The general meeting will feature celestial images taken by TAAA’s astrophotography special interest group, she said.

“There will be a show of what they have been able to do,” Malmos said. “Everyone is interested in the results. Everyone is fascinated by what can be seen in deep space.”


What: Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association monthly meeting

Topic: Astrophotography

When: 6:30-9 p.m. Friday

Where: Steward Observatory, Room N210, 933 N. Cherry Ave.

Cost: Open to the public at no charge

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