A remote village in China pins its hopes on the stars
High on a ridge in Yunnan, Gaomeigu has China’s largest optical telescope. Now, the farming village wants to become a hub for astronomical tourism.
Gaomeigu, Yunnan, ChinaWe trek along thousand-year-old mule trails, through the dense pine and oak forests of Yunnan province in western China, past the tracks of wild boars, under the croaks of gliding crows, over the pale caps of wild mushrooms, and then spot: An astronaut. A Mars lander. A UFO. And many stars and constellations—Sirius, Betelgeuse—all glinting brightly in broad daylight.
This is not a delirium triggered by altitude. (The air is thinner at 6,600 feet.)
No: It is the remote village of Gaomeigu, whose humble farmhouse walls are enlivened by large and gaudy murals of space travel, ringed planets, solar systems, comets—and a water cistern repainted as a flying saucer. In the surrounding clay-colored fields, ethnic minority Naxi farmers stoop in floppy hats,