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Equipment Discussions >> Observatories

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Midnight Dan
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Dark Arts Observatory
      #5877031 - 05/21/13 10:05 PM

Since my observatory will be mostly used for Astrophotography (Art) and in the dark (duh!) I decided to call it the "Dark Arts Observatory". I have a 5-bay SkyShed Pod on order which should be here in a month or so. I started putting in the deck and pier today so I thought it was time to start posting some pictures.

First is an aerial shot of our land and the observatory location. It will be at the red square marked "A" in this photo. It's a good location because it's far enough away from obstacles to get a clear view in all directions.


Here are views to the North, East, South, and West, in that order. The tree to the right in the first photo is the tallest obstruction and occupies about 12° in altitude, so it's not really a problem at all.








-Dan


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Midnight Dan
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5877050 - 05/21/13 10:19 PM

Here's the first day's work, putting in the holes for the deck posts and making the pier.

First shot is an internal view of the pier sonotube with conduit installed for wiring runs:


Weapon of choice for drilling 2-foot diameter holes .. a Bobcat mounted auger:


And of course, the very first hole had a large rock in it that stopped the auger in it's tracks!


Plan B - the excavator. Made short work of the rock, but left a MUCH larger hole for me to fill in afterwards. The rest of the holes went well with the auger - no further rocks!


Here's the pier hole with a couple of pieces of rebar and a pad of concrete poured in the bottom. The holes had to be 4 feet deep to get below the frostline in our area. The pad at the bottom is a foot thick and has reinforcing screen in it.


After giving the pier pad a couple hours to set up, we put the sonotube in place, leveled it, and braced it to keep it steady during the pour. We backfilled around the sonotube before pouring.


Here's the pier bolt plate I made of plywood to keep the bolts straight and aligned during installation in the top of the concrete pier. The bolts are a 3/4 inch j-bolt kit from Dan's Pier Plates online.


This pictures shows the guys pouring the concrete in the pier. Having a mixer mounted on a Bobcat is VERY handy for getting it up high.


And finally, the pier bolts and alignment plate installed. Once set up, the wood parts will be removed and the aluminum pier plate installed and leveled.


That's it for now. Will probably be a few days before I get back to this.
-Dan


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TheSheriff
sage
*****

Reged: 07/15/07

Loc: Yellow n Green, Duck Country
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5877054 - 05/21/13 10:20 PM

Off topic, but I have to ask what is marked "B"?

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Midnight Dan
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: TheSheriff]
      #5877064 - 05/21/13 10:24 PM

It was another potential location for the observatory, but I decided against it. The one thing it had going for it was that it was closer to the house and would be plowed along with the driveway so it would have easy winter access. But it was too close to the road and had too many visual obstacles so I went with A. It might be a bit harder to get to in the winter, but the views will be worth it!
-Dan

Edited by Midnight Dan (05/22/13 06:55 AM)


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5877096 - 05/21/13 10:45 PM

Hi Dan; you had some nice equipment to help this project along! Looks like you will have great skies there, we'll love following along with your build!

Quote:

so I went with B




Do you mean A?


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munchmeister
sage
*****

Reged: 04/04/12

Loc: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5877152 - 05/21/13 11:25 PM

Subscribed !! Anxious to watch this build !

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Dr Morbius
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 02/06/07

Loc: ManorvilleNY-but not for long
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: munchmeister]
      #5877226 - 05/22/13 12:30 AM

You made the correct choice with "A" instead of "B" as the location.

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AstroTatDad
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 04/22/13

Loc: Los Angeles - San Diego
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: munchmeister]
      #5877228 - 05/22/13 12:31 AM

Nice Dan, looks like fun. =)

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Tel
Postmaster
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Reged: 03/31/06

Loc: Wallingford England
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: AstroTatDad]
      #5877285 - 05/22/13 01:21 AM

Good luck with the build, Dan !

I'm certainly very envious of your sky range ! Beautiful !

Are you setting up to "go" with your EQ mount or continue with Alt./Az. ? (Maybe interchangeably both) ?

Have fun and I hope all goes easily.

Best regards,
Tel


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Peter9
Post Laureate
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Reged: 10/30/08

Loc: Yorkshire - Born & Bred
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: Tel]
      #5877411 - 05/22/13 04:03 AM

Great location Dan. I will be following your build with interest. Hope all goes well.

Regards. Peter.


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Midnight Dan
Postmaster
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Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5877449 - 05/22/13 06:57 AM

Quote:

Quote:

so I went with B




Do you mean A?




Ooops! Yes. I went back and changed my post.
-Dan


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Midnight Dan
Postmaster
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Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: Tel]
      #5877452 - 05/22/13 07:03 AM

Quote:

Are you setting up to "go" with your EQ mount or continue with Alt./Az. ? (Maybe interchangeably both) ?




Since it's primarily for AP, I'm planning on using the iEQ45 mount, and I've designed a pier plate to work with that mount. The design has an interchangeable top plate so I could use other mounts if desired, but I don't really think I'll be doing that on a regular basis.

The 8SE's alt/az mount's strong point is portability so I'll be keeping it and using it for that purpose. I may keep it out at the observatory though so I can set up a scope to peek at the sky visually while long imaging sessions are under way.

-Dan


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MRNUTTY
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 11/22/11

Loc: Mendon, MA
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5877456 - 05/22/13 07:06 AM

"Dark Arts"I love that name!

I have Dan's pier plate stuff too. Great choice! I wish I had horizons like yours.

Edited by MRNUTTY (05/22/13 07:10 AM)


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Starman27
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 01/29/06

Loc: Illinois, Iowa
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: MRNUTTY]
      #5877502 - 05/22/13 08:16 AM

Great start! My POD is at a dark site too. You will love it.

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MHamburg
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 06/21/06

Loc: Brooklyn, NY/Berkshires, MA
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: Starman27]
      #5877559 - 05/22/13 08:52 AM

Great start!! I sure envy your Bobcat. Can it make the clouds go away?
Michael


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Midnight Dan
Postmaster
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Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: MHamburg]
      #5877608 - 05/22/13 09:27 AM

Actually, the bobcat and excavator are not mine. I hired a friend of mine who has an excavating business to do the digging and concrete pours. He and his helper are the people in the photos.

I have a Kubota farm tractor and a 3-point hitch mounted auger, but it's light duty and would not have handled a 2-foot bit. Plus, I really needed the ability to pour concrete into the top of that pier tube, which would have been difficult without the Bobcat. So I thought it made sense to hire out this part of the work.

-Dan


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corpusse
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 04/11/10

Loc: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: AstroTatDad]
      #5877656 - 05/22/13 09:52 AM

Looks great Dan. I love the name. I also love the wood holding the pier bolts.

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cpl43uk
sage


Reged: 02/09/08

Loc: Bristol, UK
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: corpusse]
      #5878417 - 05/22/13 03:47 PM

This is going to be a very interesting set of posts! However your space, skies and now pod will make me ponder as I lugout the system I have into the back garden each time. All I need to do is cut down a few trees, level some of the neighbours houses and persuade my wife that the pier she will see in the garden is really a new washing line post.. Now THAT would be a project!!

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ben2112
Cloud Magnet
*****

Reged: 07/12/12

Loc: North Charleston SC
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: cpl43uk]
      #5879355 - 05/22/13 11:58 PM

That is so cool Dan. I can't wait to see when it's finished. Wish I could have an observatory, but my HOA would have a cow..

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audioaficionado
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 05/24/12

Loc: Medford, Orygun, USA
Re: Dark Arts Observatory new [Re: ben2112]
      #5879398 - 05/23/13 12:28 AM

Subscribed:

This pier looks like the kind I'd like to build eventually.

Did you polar align the bolts?


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