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Second Observatory

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My second observatory was featured in the December 1982 issue of the Sky & Telescope Magazine article "Five Amateur Observatories".  This image at right was featured in the article.  Below are images showing the interior.
This was the view of the observatory interior through the access door, and gives a good view of the custom wedge and pier on which the telescope rested.  Note the fine altitude and azimuth wedge adjustments which proved invaluable during drift alignment routines. To the left in the picture is the computer stand. An adjustable observing chair is visible behind the pier.
Here was my set-up.  At the business end of the Meade 12 inch LX200 was a Lumicon Giant Easy Guider, which included a very fine 80mm focal reducer lens.  To this was attached a Meade #644 flip mirror with a Series 4000 Plossl 9mm reticule eyepiece.  The Meade model 216XT CCD camera was attached to the flip mirror.
At the bottom of the picture is a small "box" containing a muffin fan which blew air across the CCD camera heat sink fins.  This dissipated heat much more quickly, and I was able to cool the camera to -20C. The fan is mounted on a tripod so that it can be tilted in any orientation.

Photos and sketches can be seen in my detailed construction notes.  I have scanned my c.1982 observatory plans.  There are 15 sketches as GIF images, and 18 photos showing construction.

View my detailed construction notes and images

Observatory Specifications:
Diameter: 8 feet
Height: 9 feet
Superstructure: Laminated plywood
Dome Covering: 1/8 inch masonite
Base Covering: Pre-painted, corrugated steel siding
Pier: 8 inch diameter, 1/2 inch wall
Wedge: Custom made aluminium alloy

The image at right was taken in September 1999.  The single most major modification was the replacement of Masonite sheathing on the base.  To start, the Masonite was inexpensive and lasted ten years.  However, the humidity slowly deteriorated the Masonite about 6 inches up from the ground.  The base was re-sheathed with corrugated steel that has a baked-on enamel finish.  The dome still has the original Masonite sheathing on it after 20 years of use, and showed no sign of deterioration (the dome was sold in August 2004 with the original sheathing in very good condition).

This is how I spent a typical night of imaging - comfortably seated behind the telescope.  Just behind the scope was the computer stand, keyboard and monitor.  The computer was inside an insulated plywood box.  Two 25 watt light bulbs controlled an electric baseboard heater thermostat.  The light bulbs cycled on and off and provided sufficient heat to keep the computer warm during those bitterly cold winter nights.  I had fiber optic cables feeding light from the light bulbs to the outside of the observatory so that I can see the everything is working.  I liked to keep the computer above 10C, which is the minimum recommended storage and operating temperature.  This small source of heat also drove away humidity.
Just under the wedge was a small shelf to hold the LX200 keypad.
The following observatories were built using my plans and/or design, or used some ideas from my design  It is interesting to see some of the innovative refinements.  If you have a web site that showcases your observatory, please let me know so that I can include it here.

Bear Creek Observatory - by Johnathan Fay
Pictor Observatory - by Bill Gardner
Terra Rouge Observatory - by Dave Cunningham
Twin Peaks Observatory - by Bob Anderson
Danny Jones