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Old 03-09-2009, 08:01 PM
 
Location: DFW
307 posts, read 1,051,416 times
Reputation: 137

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Did anyone ever go to this place? I can't believe they shut their doors. I was about to make a reservation and I just found out they shut down.

Anyways it was an astronomy retreat in New Mexico. They had about a dozen well kept telescopes and ranch houses in one of the darkest areas in New Mexico.
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Old 04-07-2009, 10:17 AM
 
2 posts, read 16,703 times
Reputation: 14
Yes I went there in August 2007. It was very good. I'm glad I went. The accommodations were very nice with a full kitchen. The setting in the pine forest was lovely. The scopes were good. The third night I was there I had the Ritchie-Cretien (sp?) in the dome. Phil was a good host. Here are some notes I made:

No air conditioning, no internet, cell phone doesn’t work. 22 inch Dobs very good, very good optics. Seeing very good.

Nice fellow Greg and I swapped views in our scopes. He had a 16” Schmidt-Cassegranian. Very little difference in optics. His was much more convenient, as mine had poorly placed telrad and finder. Much bending and straining to see in Dobs; not good.

The southern view partially blocked by trees! Also partially blocked by a shed! Sheesh. Had to wait for M55 to get higher in the sky before I could see it. Viewing platform rather compact. Mounts very solid. M17 awesome. Great comparison in the two scopes. M13 good. M51 not as good as last year in the 30” Dobs. M82 good in the Schmidt.

Critique of Star Hill: aging, a bit frayed. Overgrown paths. Faded signs. Deck wood coming up. Cobwebs in the star diagonal mount! Very dusty and dirty display case of arrow heads, rocks, etc. found nearby. No internet, no cell phone. No pay phones. No air conditioning. Library is small. No rest room there.

Good parts: cottage tasteful and well appointed. Doesn’t really need AC. Scope worked well. Nice kitchen. Pine woods setting very nice. Phil Mahon very friendly.

I'm not surprised it closed. I could see it coming then. I hope someone will buy it and reopen it! Meanwhile check out New Mexico Skies.

R. Lewis
New York
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Old 08-15-2010, 09:44 AM
 
1 posts, read 7,508 times
Reputation: 11
I think I heard Phil sold his operation because he was tired of cranky people who complain about cobwebs and the lack of cell phone service. How do you find dark skies? You go to a remote location and, gee!, there may not be cell service there!
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Old 08-16-2010, 07:04 AM
 
2 posts, read 16,703 times
Reputation: 14
I did not complain to him. As I said, the experience I had was very good.

The cobwebs and the floor boards coming up were symptomatic of a problem, not a serious problem for me at that time. Air conditioning was not really needed, although I would have turned it on once or twice. Internet would have been nice to access Sky and Telescope and to get some work done during the day. The lack of cell phone service was annoying, and prevented my meeting up with an old friend.

All of those things are easily available at New Mexico Skies. NM Skies is newer and doesn't have quite as nice accommodations overall, only because they are newer and some are prefab. However, all of the astronomy facilities are superb.

About a year ago I happened to be in northern New Mexico and drove over to Star Hill Inn. The place looked much as I had left it in 2007. There were no telescopes visible, doors were locked, and the place looked a bit run down and derelict. Someone may have been living at the very last house, farthest from the road.
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Old 01-29-2011, 09:49 AM
 
1 posts, read 6,988 times
Reputation: 10
I had a good time there with a couple of friends in Sept. 2001. The scopes were good, but I think Phil (although very nice) was getting tired of running this place. The fabulous homemade dessert that the website raved about turned out to be a package of Oreo cookies, so it wasn't as described. I just think they really didn't care that much about making the place all that it could have been.
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Old 01-29-2011, 10:25 PM
 
Location: DFW
307 posts, read 1,051,416 times
Reputation: 137
Quote:
Originally Posted by rfermat View Post
I did not complain to him. As I said, the experience I had was very good.

The cobwebs and the floor boards coming up were symptomatic of a problem, not a serious problem for me at that time. Air conditioning was not really needed, although I would have turned it on once or twice. Internet would have been nice to access Sky and Telescope and to get some work done during the day. The lack of cell phone service was annoying, and prevented my meeting up with an old friend.

All of those things are easily available at New Mexico Skies. NM Skies is newer and doesn't have quite as nice accommodations overall, only because they are newer and some are prefab. However, all of the astronomy facilities are superb.

About a year ago I happened to be in northern New Mexico and drove over to Star Hill Inn. The place looked much as I had left it in 2007. There were no telescopes visible, doors were locked, and the place looked a bit run down and derelict. Someone may have been living at the very last house, farthest from the road.
I had these (http://www.flickr.com/photos/58997410@N08/5400209362/in/set-72157625935405662/ - broken link) little guys all over my cabin, they didn't bother me though.

I'll have to check out New Mexico Skies.
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Old 08-14-2011, 06:58 AM
 
1 posts, read 6,426 times
Reputation: 10
My wife and I enjoyed our four day stay there around new moon in August 2000. Used the 22" Dob. Brought my own eyepieces. Best seeing I ever experienced. Sky turned pure black when clouds came in with no up light in the area. Saw the shadow of my hand on the white Telrad book from the Milky Way. Have never had that happen since. The cabin was very nice and homey. The warm room and library was comfortable with a lot of good reading. There were life size cardboard images of Star Wars characters wearing Star Hill sweatshirts. Big jar of Palomar Oreo cookies. Nice trails to walk with a labyrinth to try out. Saw hoof prints from Elk. This place was a ton of work for Phil and his wife and must have started out as a labor of love. Perhaps the business model did not yield sufficient revenues to sustain them and justify the effort. That is a shame because I would love to go back some day.
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