Badlands Observatory opens doors to public

QUINN, S.D. — Almost all of us grew up looking towards the sky, watching stars twinkle on camping trips or spotting planets rising over the horizon.

Very few of us go on to build our own telescopes, but one Deadwood native did just that.

Badlands Observatory“My career in astronomy actually started in 1954 on a Boy Scout camping trip when a scoutmaster pointed out the planet Mars to me and I made a connection with Mars that I’ve never lost,” says Copartner of the Badlands Observatory Ron Dyvig.

Ron taught math and science, eventually getting involved in optical sciences and astronomy research at the University of Arizona.

Over the years, I was very heavily involved in amateur telescope making, and back in those days, that meant that you ground and polished your own mirrors for your telescopes,” says Dyvig. “I built about 12 astronomical telescopes of various sizes over the years, and I conducted the mirror grinding classes for a few years in Rapid City.”

Eventually, he purchased the abandoned hospital in Quinn, where he built his telescope.

I had a meeting with the guy in town council and they agreed to put corrective light shields on the street lights in town, which made it even better,” Dyvig adds.

Badlands Observatory TelescopeWith this telescope, Dyvig participated in a variety of research projects. He found 25 asteroids for NASA’s Spaceguard Project, in an effort to help identify all earth-crossing asteroids.

“In the astronomical community, they allow naming privileges to the discoverer of asteroids. So of these 25, I have managed to petition names for several of them, and most recently I got one named after the town of Quinn,” says Dyvig with a smile. 

Now, he’s refocusing his lens on a closer cause, his community.

“My partner — Teresa Hofer and I — we have embarked on our new mission now, where we’re going to be have a much higher profile with the public,” Dyvig explains.

For more information on visiting the Badlands Observatory, click here.

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