On Top of the Mountain and Under the Stars

written by Bronte Dodphoto by Rob Kerr


Mark Dunaway knows the black sky and the sound of white noise. He has spent the past thirty-five years as the devout sole caretaker of the astronomical Pine Mountain Observatory, located 26 miles southeast of Bend.

In the beginning, Dunaway did research for the physics department at the University of Oregon. Today, his job centers on maintaining the nine-acre property. He has a rare job, envied by lone wolf types. Dunaway shares the space with his three dogs and travels into Bend on the weekends for necessities.

The University of Oregon operates the observatory and has leased the land from the United States Forest Service since 1967.

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Dunaway retires in 2017. “Everyone has to come down off the mountain some time,” he said. The observatory is open to the public between Memorial Day and the end of September.

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