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Observatory on a High Deck

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#1 TimN

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 10:00 AM

I live in Northern Ontario Canada where the temperature can vary from a low in the minus 30C range in the winter to a high in the low 30's Centigrade in the summer. I'm currently retired and thinking of setting up an observatory for imaging.

I've reviewed the areas around my home and the best - from an open sky perspective as well as an access perspective - is my back deck. It could easily hold something like an Skyshed Pod. Its a ceder deck and runs the length of my house. Its attached to the house on one side and on the other side has wooden pillars set in concrete posts that go down to the bedrock. Its pretty solid and currently has 4 feet of snow on it :) However, it is 10-15 feet above the ground.

Before I bring the subject up with my wife - which I'm not looking forward to - I need to know if its feasable. Would a tripod be steady enough? If not, is a 15ft pier realistic? Any ideas appreciated.

#2 Bob Griffiths

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 10:11 AM

The tripod is not going to cut it even for visual in my opinion...If you are a visual observer I would just build a much smaller deck (just big enough to holed a tripod etc under the main deck just use a portable pier ...it will be completely isolated from your main deck and will not be much of a problem for visual observing..

Ap is another story...

Bob G.

#3 TimN

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 10:16 AM

Thanks Bob, I didn't think a tripod would work. However, its for AP so, I would need some sort of pier - if its even feasible at that hight. The height is what really gives me the open skies, so thought I would explore the best viweing alternative first to see if there was a way to make it work.

#4 mich_al

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 10:39 AM

Bob nailed it. I tried a similar thing. That deck moved way more than you think and at even medium magnifications it will be borderline for visual. I could tell when the cat started to walk up the stairs to the deck. I ended up with a 10' 11" x 11" wooden pier that is great for visual but probably not ok for AP. Others have built 15' concrete or cinder block piers with good results.

#5 *skyguy*

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 06:41 PM

A chimney block pier would make an easy to build, inexpensive and AP ready way to mount a scope at a second floor location. I built a 14' chimney block pier for my 12" SCT almost 12 years ago... and it's used exclusively for astrophotography. It's performance for AP has been excellent! Back then, it cost $75 in materials and less than a day to build with the help of a friend. If you'd like some detailed information on its construction ... send me a PM.

Chimney block pier

#6 TimN

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 08:20 AM

Thanks, it looks just like what I would need. I sent you a PM.

#7 roscoe

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 10:11 AM

Chimney blocks - while not available everywhere - are a truly under-used astro accessory! They are cheap, easily user-assembled, and if filled with concrete during or after assembly, just as strong as a massive sonotube pier! For those concerned about their mortaring skills, they can be dry-stacked and filled, too.
Russ

#8 tomcody

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 10:12 AM

+1 for the chimney block pier from a structural viewpoint.
One thing to consider is that for AP you do not need a big horizon view as you will be shooting as high in the sky as possible, usually 30 deg above horizon is minimum, (visual as low as you want) so if you can place it in the back yard? a roll off will provide better protection and may cost about the same as the deck build considering the the height of the pier. With good automation, (run all the signals into the house) you can stay dry and warm and still image.

#9 corpusse

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 10:50 AM

I think I will be using chimney blocks for my pier. Where in Northern Ontario are you? I'm building an observatory at my parents house on St. Joesphs's Island. Actually now that I think about it the Chimney needs to be replaced as it was not up to code. Maybe when they come to work on it I can just get them to sell me extra blocks. $75 in material is incredible! I'm sure it will cost more now but good to know it won't break the bank. I have not started pricing this stuff yet.

#10 nytecam

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 02:35 PM

One thing to consider is that for AP you do not need a big horizon view as you will be shooting as high in the sky as possible, usually 30 deg above horizon is minimum,

One thing to consider is that we don't all live in Florida but in Canada and UK where a lot of interesting DSO stuff is quite low in the sky. According to your 30 deg high rule the Orion Nebula would barely make it :roflmao:

#11 TimN

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 04:05 PM

Yes Russ, I agree the chimney blocks are looking like the best idea.

Corpusse, I have a condo in Ajax - east of Toronto. However, I spend the majority of my time at our cottage - which is really a home - on Deer Lake near South River. The side away from the lake is heavily treed while the lake side has a walkway leading to the beach, where I currently image. Anything permanent on or near the beach would be a problem. Even, puting it on the deck would block the view from one of the windows. I was thinking of extending the deck beyond the house. Hopefully, this would cause the least problems and still give me the best open sky. As Nytecam says we are pretty far north and the extra hight would be helpful.

Just hope my wife doesn't figure out cost per image :)

#12 roscoe

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 02:36 PM

For tall piers, not so much, but for shorter piers, the clay liners that are installed inside chimney blocks to make safe chimneys also make very fine piers - sort of like permanent sonotubes, but actually nice looking..... They are square or rectangular, and have nicely rounded corners. In some areas, round ones are also available.....
Russ






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