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Roof top observatory in Indianapolis

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#1 tstephens3956

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 03:57 PM

After a bit of a hiatus, I have just started frequenting Cloudy Nights once again. I thought folks might be interested in how I constructed and observatory on our roof top using a somewhat different roof design, two panels that open down an incline giving me a nearly horizontal North/South view. I have a series of photos of my observatory on Facebook. Just follow this link: https://www.facebook...012.2135699....

#2 Midnight Dan

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 09:14 AM

Wow! Beautiful job! Love the way that it fits so well with the look of the house from the outside. You'd hardly know there was an observatory in there! Also, great set of photos showing the route to get to the observatory from the house, as well as the shots inside the observatory.

Some questions - what is used for the base of the pier, and does it extend down to the ground? Do you have any trouble with thermals rising off of the hot roof after dark?

-Dan

#3 tstephens3956

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 10:13 AM

Good questions. The pier is bolted into the ceiling and wall beams. It is constructed with 1/4" iron pipe laser cut and welded/bolted together and filled with sand. Surprisingly, vibration is not a problem. The space is ventilated with a number of vents to keep the temperature at ambient. The observatory actually extends out from the roof so that most observation does not have to be taken over cooling roof. There probably is some distortion especially on hot summer days but generally I try to do my imaging away from the house. The one issue I do have is a lack of a West view so photographing objects near the setting sun are out of the question. So far the set up works well for deep sky but that is what the Deep Sky RC14C was designed for. I am just now working on doing some planetary astrophotography but this is really a sideline. Some examples of my photos can be seen in this Facebook album: https://www.facebook...096.2136230....

#4 Midnight Dan

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 10:55 AM

I'm also surprised that vibration is not a problem. But the proof is in the photos and they look great. Nice job! :waytogo:

-Dan

#5 tstephens3956

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 11:35 AM

Some of the photos have turned out OK others need some work. My Apogee U16M is down with a moisture leak in the sensor compartment. Otherwise I would be working on the Lagoon Nebula.
One element that provides some stability from vibration is that the astrograph is operated remotely from my study downstairs. All USB or Serial/USB cables are fed into multiple USB extenders and then through cables downstairs.

The main problem is not vibration but wind, clouds, jet stream. If we have significant wind, I am out of business for the evening. Indiana is not the best place to do this kind of work but I like the idea that I can set up an imaging sequence and sit and watch movies/streaming video with the wife. It has improved our relationship from the time that I used to have to sit up there and do everything manually.

#6 corpusse

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 11:41 AM

What a cool build. Right down to the secret door.

#7 tstephens3956

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 11:55 AM

The secret door was something we added for my son. The room at the base of the stairs going up to the observatory was his "study". He did a lot more game playing there than study. There is another small room at the top of the stairs with two doors, one going into the attic space the other into the observatory. I use this room during initial alignment, assembling optics, storage of equipment, etc.

#8 rimcrazy

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 01:09 PM

Having gone to school in Indiana (that other place up in West Lafayette !) I was curious as to how your roof operates in the winter with snow loaded on top.

Very cool observatory. Is your OTA a Planewave?

#9 tstephens3956

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 01:35 PM

If you look at the roof pictures, you can see heating wire strung on the panels. I just plug this in and the snow/ice melts off the roof panel.

#10 1965healy

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 01:59 PM

I don't do FaceBook so I'll have to take your word for it.

#11 tstephens3956

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 03:27 PM

The photos are public so I do not believe you have to be on Facebook to see them. I tried scaling these down to post here but they are still too large, i.e., 240-500 kb.

#12 Starman27

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 04:44 PM

Photos not available.

#13 1965healy

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 06:40 PM

They can't be seen or accessed via the link you provide.

#14 mich_al

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 08:34 PM

You can always resize them (paint if nothing else) and post here.

It would sure be nice if CN would resize images for us when we upload if they're too big (hint hint).

#15 csa/montana

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 08:58 PM

There's several resizing programs (free) available to use. :)

#16 tstephens3956

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 09:23 PM

Trying to post some photos now:

#17 tstephens3956

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 09:41 PM

Again:

Attached Files



#18 tstephens3956

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 09:43 PM

Another:

Attached Files



#19 tstephens3956

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 09:45 PM

An other:

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#20 tstephens3956

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 09:47 PM

Also:

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#21 tstephens3956

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 09:49 PM

Secret door:

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#22 tstephens3956

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 09:57 PM

Stairs up:

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#23 1965healy

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 10:18 PM

Very nice!

#24 Starman27

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 08:38 AM

Outstanding design. What structure is below the pier?

#25 *skyguy*

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 09:07 AM

I've had that design for a "stealth" dormer observatory in the back of my mind for many years! I'm glad to see you have successfully built one. It looks great! :)

I have a different "stealth" design observatory installed on the top of my attached garage. I see from your posts you have a problem with wind shaking the very exposed telescope. I also had this problem until I installed "flip-up" plywood wind screens. They completely prevent any telescope vibrations even during very windy nights.

Here's a shot of my rooftop stealth observatory ... it's been in operation for almost 14 years:

Stealth Observatory

Good Luck with your observatory ... it's a real beauty!






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