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Equipment Discussions >> Observatories

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DGB
member
*****

Reged: 05/12/08

Loc: Reva, Virginia USA
Morning Calm Observatory
      #5592040 - 12/28/12 12:41 AM Attachment (235 downloads)

OK, 'bout time I come out of lurking mode and give some current views of my Madison County, Virginia Code approved Morning Calm Observatory.
This labor of love was designed and constructed entirely by me with my Wife spotting/assisting on occasion. Sure, I'm needing more help as I get older... Also the trusses and metal shop work were ordered, prefabricated and delivered on site. This was designed as a 20'x24' Roll-off-Roof observatory for visual use and Astronomy Outreach (including 60amp/240V service, 6'x20' warm room, 2ea 6'wide inward swinging windows on the southward facing wall, 3'x3'raised independent support platform and a 20'x16'step down integrated decking). This effort was based on years of personal thought and hundreds of Cloudy Night posters with their many and varied forum comments and ideas integrated into the final design/build. (Really though, when is an observatory EVER completed?)
For a foundation, I decided on a wood platform structure verses concrete to preclude localized seeing issues. My 20" box fan is a GREAT equalizer for any remaining stray thermal differences! The independent support platform was built separate from the 20'x24' structure. Vibration is minimal, not ZERO though.
The roof is currently not motorized and is simple enough to pull open and close by ropes using my body weight. (OK, point of order, I'm only 56 and 230lbs @ 6'4" but I did use extra care with an Egyptian water trick!)
This attached picture is a current view. Main house to the left, Observatory to the right. An easy walk out the basement doors. Although not in any Homeowners Association, I did follow typical architecture control committee guidelines and common sense to match structures.
Getting late, more to follow.


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DGB
member
*****

Reged: 05/12/08

Loc: Reva, Virginia USA
Re: Morning Calm Observatory new [Re: DGB]
      #5592046 - 12/28/12 12:51 AM Attachment (174 downloads)

Another picture looking SSW showing the deck and topography. At the south end there is actually storage space underneath the observatory.

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DGB
member
*****

Reged: 05/12/08

Loc: Reva, Virginia USA
Re: Morning Calm Observatory new [Re: DGB]
      #5592051 - 12/28/12 12:56 AM Attachment (152 downloads)

And one more this evening looking ESE with the roof rolled back.

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rockethead26
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 10/21/09

Loc: Arizona, USA
Re: Morning Calm Observatory new [Re: DGB]
      #5592223 - 12/28/12 07:47 AM

Wow! Beautiful observatory. Really nicely done.

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Aquarist
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 08/27/12

Loc: Illinois
Re: Morning Calm Observatory new [Re: rockethead26]
      #5592252 - 12/28/12 08:20 AM

Gorgeous. I cannot believe you did this yourself!! Great job.

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David PavlichAdministrator
Transmographied
*****

Reged: 05/18/05

Loc: Mandeville, LA USA
Re: Morning Calm Observatory new [Re: rockethead26]
      #5592294 - 12/28/12 08:52 AM

Very nice work, indeed! And welcome to Cloudy Nights.
David

Edited by David Pavlich (12/28/12 08:53 AM)


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StarmanDan
Post Laureate
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Reged: 08/27/07

Loc: Deep in the heart of Texas
Re: Morning Calm Observatory new [Re: David Pavlich]
      #5592352 - 12/28/12 09:37 AM

Jealous!

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Starman27
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 01/29/06

Loc: Illinois, Iowa
Re: Morning Calm Observatory new [Re: StarmanDan]
      #5592483 - 12/28/12 11:12 AM

That is a wonderful looking observatory. One of the best DIY builds I have seen, especially to handle a large Dob. What's the inside look like? How have you tried to isolate the telescope platform?

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DGB
member
*****

Reged: 05/12/08

Loc: Reva, Virginia USA
Re: Morning Calm Observatory new [Re: StarmanDan]
      #5592529 - 12/28/12 11:40 AM

Thanks for the comments! Now that I am (mostly) finished, winter is here and the moon is full, I would like to reflect, discuss and share my experiences with this Cloudy Nights Forum, an outstanding available resource for the amateur astronomer that has certainly allowed me to further my dreams. Any specific questions? I would be happy to share my thoughts.
A particularly 'tricky' process to help allow the roof to roll so smoothly was the leveling procedure during construction. My wife insisted I buy a laser level but stubborn as I am (and those that know me certainly know why!), I figured I could do just as well (or better) using simple principles as the builders of great structures in the past have done... (Egyptians/pyramids and water troughs) I used a 50' length of flexible clear tubing. I filled the tube with water and used it as a long bubble level. From one wall top plate corner to the other, and at all other points along that plane where the metal works rests for the entire 20x24 roof, I am about 1/4 inch off. I assume that will slowly change because of the nature of wood. From the footing structures to the beams and 6x6 posts to top plates, I measured about 5 separate times with the elevation changes and used the average pencil marks to make the wood cuts.

Measure 5x, cut once. Worked for me!

Edited by DGB (12/28/12 01:40 PM)


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Morning Calm Observatory new [Re: DGB]
      #5592553 - 12/28/12 11:53 AM

First, allow us to welcome you from a CN "lurker", to a CN poster that has all of us drooling!

What a truly beautiful observatory! I absolutely love the porch; one would never know that it's an observatory. The latticework really adds so much beauty to it, and the bonus; extra storage!

We'd love to take a look inside this beauty, when you have time to post additional pictures!


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DGB
member
*****

Reged: 05/12/08

Loc: Reva, Virginia USA
Re: Morning Calm Observatory new [Re: Starman27]
      #5592635 - 12/28/12 12:50 PM

Hello Herman,
More pics to follow. The 30" sits on an approximately 3'x3' raised platform which was built independent of the 20'x24' structure. There are 4 each 6x6 ground contact pressure treated posts set into the ground about 3 to 4 feet deep with 3 to 4 large 80lb bags of concrete in each hole. Those 4 posts are 'capped' with a wood platform extending about 9" above the observatory floor. The platform total height above the sloping ground is just under 6' at that point. The floor and the platform do NOT touch. I plan on putting soft foam strips into the gaps. In my tests, multiple folks walking on the observatory floor have no appreciable visual effect at the eyepiece. Folks JUMPING on the floor does show a slight jiggling at the eyepiece. I am assuming that the induced vibration are from the observatory foundation footings which are transferring through the ground and into the separate platform supports. To me, for a visual scope, this is quite acceptable. Previously on SOLID ground with this large scope, a tap to the focuser would induce about a 2 second movement at the eyepiece. I still get the same 2 second movement when I tap the eyepiece ON THE PLATFORM.

Think of it this way: 11' to the eyepiece at zenith, 6' down to ground level from platform - Nearly 17' above ground in the middle of the night looking for really faint fuzzies... Pegs my fun-o-meter!


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DGB
member
*****

Reged: 05/12/08

Loc: Reva, Virginia USA
Re: Morning Calm Observatory new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5592703 - 12/28/12 01:32 PM

Quote:

First, allow us to welcome you from a CN "lurker", to a CN poster that has all of us drooling!

What a truly beautiful observatory! I absolutely love the porch; one would never know that it's an observatory. The latticework really adds so much beauty to it, and the bonus; extra storage!

We'd love to take a look inside this beauty, when you have time to post additional pictures!




Thanks Carol,
Yes! The 'covered' porch turned out to be the gathering and resting point for my Northern Virginia Astronomy Club observing buddies on into the late hours of summer and autumn. I'm very glad I included that feature. With the onset of winter, the 6x20 'warm room' is becoming popular. During nice and sunny days, I often go out and use the observatory deck for reading and planning the next 'Star Party' observing list.
In my first encounter with the County Office, I walked in and showed them a picture of a large Roll-off-Roof Observatory and said "I want to build one of these, how can I legally do this myself on my property?" Technically with the County, this is considered a secondary structure on the property. Prior to the first post hole, I spent about 10 hours total with the County Inspectors Office going over every detail in my plans to ensure I wasn't going against county and state code. Once I identified all the variables and made a plan, and after paying the appropriate fees and permits of course, I dove into this with the energy and excitement of a teenager! As the fulfillment of a life long dream, there was quite a sense of satisfaction in the entire process of completing all of this myself!


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DGB
member
*****

Reged: 05/12/08

Loc: Reva, Virginia USA
Re: Morning Calm Observatory new [Re: DGB]
      #5592823 - 12/28/12 02:57 PM Attachment (104 downloads)

Here is a pic of the upper wall section with the metal works installed and the roof roller section sitting in place prior to the trusses being mounted.
The county said that I needed a positive locking mechanism in place (for both an open and closed roof), so I came up with this design and had a local metal fabricator make the rail system you see in the picture. The welded end cap with the solid metal post actually slides in between the caster base plate and 'v' groove wheel. The length of the rail is 42' on each side for the 24' roof to roll on. Each end of the 42' lengths has this end cap configuration. 4 total, effectively locking down the observatory roof in the fully open position and the fully closed position. I simply put a clamp on each side to keep the roof from blowing out of either locked position. The strong welded end caps do stop the roof from rolling off in the darkness and also stop the roof from blowing up and off in a big storm. Proof positive was with the BIG derecho storm at the end of June that came out of nowhere with 75+ mph winds! Northern Virginia lost many trees (I lost 4 on my property), but no, no, my observatory roof didn't blow away. Maybe I should patent this idea! Anyone see something similar?


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DGB
member
*****

Reged: 05/12/08

Loc: Reva, Virginia USA
Re: Morning Calm Observatory new [Re: DGB]
      #5592827 - 12/28/12 03:00 PM Attachment (67 downloads)

And the other end of the rail system.

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Bob Griffiths
Getting Grouchy
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Reged: 10/10/05

Loc: Frederick Maryland
Re: Morning Calm Observatory new [Re: DGB]
      #5592834 - 12/28/12 03:11 PM

Hey...LET me congratulate you on one heck of a nice (understatement) looking and functional observatory...

Not much else I can say... except I also am very jealous ... mouth watering jealous !!!

Bob G.


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EdTheEdge
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 04/10/09

Loc: Lomita, CA
Re: Morning Calm Observatory new [Re: Bob Griffiths]
      #5592924 - 12/28/12 04:14 PM

Now THAT'S an OBSERVATORY!

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DGB
member
*****

Reged: 05/12/08

Loc: Reva, Virginia USA
Re: Morning Calm Observatory new [Re: Bob Griffiths]
      #5592934 - 12/28/12 04:19 PM Attachment (98 downloads)

Simply put, the observatory was designed around the 30" Obsession. Here is a southern facing shot from inside the observatory looking out the two inward swinging 6' wide windows. As can be seen on the right window, the outer 2' section of each window is a translucent polycarbonate materiel and lets in PLENTY of daylight sun from the south side of the observatory. I figured the older I get, the higher the risk of falling out the window reaching out to close them, so I designed them to open inward! You can also see the 3x3 raised platform I mentioned earlier. Even with the windows in their inward open position, the 30" will swing down to horizontal and easily clear the NE, East, SE, South, SW, West and NW walls with only about 30 degrees to either side of north end not clearing. But, hey, the apex of the roof is there anyway... The observatory is angled slightly NE from a North/South line by only the amount needed for the 30" to just see Polaris on the roof slope. Gotta think of the Argo Navis and ServoCAT setup procedures and the possibility of future equatorial concerns. I opted to allow that northern floor space to be incorporated into the Warm Room (more on that later). I have a 10' and 6' ladder handy for use with the 30". The floor space needs to be free from clutter, ESPECIALLY at night when shuffling the ladders around the observatory floor. Not shown in the NE corner is a open bookcase style cabinet for shelf space and eyepieces. In the NW corner is my red light district for an open chart cabinet storing loose leaf star charts.

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northernontario
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 07/01/09

Loc: Porcupine, Ontario Canada
Re: Morning Calm Observatory new [Re: DGB]
      #5593305 - 12/28/12 08:38 PM

And this magnificant obervatory comes with a 30 inch Obsession!

I am speechless.

jake


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DGB
member
*****

Reged: 05/12/08

Loc: Reva, Virginia USA
Re: Morning Calm Observatory new [Re: northernontario]
      #5593595 - 12/28/12 11:56 PM Attachment (72 downloads)

As every one here has done with their observatory, you start from the ground up. This initial kick-off picture is from February 6th, 2012 the first of many a long work day aimed at reaching First Light! 12 footing holes at 2 foot wide and 2 foot deep.

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DGB
member
*****

Reged: 05/12/08

Loc: Reva, Virginia USA
Re: Morning Calm Observatory new [Re: DGB]
      #5595085 - 12/29/12 08:20 PM Attachment (51 downloads)

Here is where 3 weeks took me with the initial effort. Certainly were a lot of moving pieces, parts and actions during this phase with purchasing and delivery (to driveway) of all BOM required. I then had to move EVERYTHING down and around the house to the work site. Lots of measuring and re-measuring with the water tube as I mentioned earlier. Hint to Others: PLAN on losing weight with this type of project!! I lost 20 pounds as an added bonus.
The County Inspectors came out early on for the initial footing holes and electrical trench run before I could continue to reach the point in this picture.


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