Up to this point all of the blog posts for Astro Daily have been written by yours truly. But I thought it was high time that you get a break from me and hear from another member of the MRO staff. Today’s article is written by MRO Outreach Assistant Shelbi Etscorn. Thanks for your contribution, Shelbi!
M. Colleen Gino, MRO Assistant Director of Outreach and Communications
Driving up the long and winding road to the Ridge that serves as home to the Magdalena Ridge Observatory (MRO), it’s hard to keep one’s nose a respectable distance away from any windows that look down over the rolling hills and plummeting cliff faces. Nestled within the strikingly wild and untamed face of the Magdalena Mountains is the well maintained road made of winding switchbacks and light dirt that contrast the dark trees nearly as much as its manufactured appearance contrasts the untamed landscape that surrounds it.
It may be easy to not give much thought to those switchbacks when preoccupied with the natural beauty of the mountains, but maintaining the road to keep its treacherousness at a manageable level is no small feat.
MROI staff drive the road every single day to make sure it’s in the best condition for anyone venturing to the mountain’s peak. In the winter, many hours are spent clearing the road of snow and ice. This task isn’t only necessary from a practical standpoint, it’s a contractual obligation of the MRO.
The site on which all of the MRO’s telescopes are built sits right in the middle of the Cibola National Forest. In exchange for the use of the public land, it was agreed the road would always be maintained by MRO staff. Keeping its promise, part of the Observatory’s staff includes team members who bear the responsibility of keeping our road safe and accessible for as many days of the year as possible. A job that they have grown incredibly adept at! No one could argue the beauty of the mountain, but an equal share of praise and awe is owed to the road and the men and women who work hard to keep it a functioning part of our Observatory! If you’re still having trouble believing roads can be beautiful, take a second look at the mountain image above. Each colored line is actually a bird’s eye view of the road that leads up to observatories around the world.