It's been a busy couple of weeks since I last posted but, asides from some cosmetic work and cleanup, the observatory is complete! Just in time for a long period of cloudy weather, of course.
I had about a week's delay in getting the metal sheeting for the roof. I picked it up just before an unseasonably big storm was to hit us, so was keen to get it on before that. The roofing felt had been on in fairly high winds for about two weeks at that point and I was surprised it hadn't been torn to shreds. I was nervous about putting the sheeting on, but ended up tackling it solo in order to get it done before the weather. As it happens, it went very smoothly and even though it was breezier than I'd have liked, I didn't feel like any were going to take flight on me while I was installing them. It felt great to have a finished roof and a weathertight building! Using the bed of my truck as a scaffold made things easy and felt a lot safer than using a ladder, especially on the uneven ground around the building.
Just finished putting the sheeting on the roof! The day after this we had 75kph winds and nothing budged. A good stress test!
After installing the weather stripping around the gap between the roof and the walls, it was finally time to install the mount and telescope. I carried the telescope assembly up by hand, but the mount was a step too far, so I loaded it in the truck and rednecked it up to the observatory.
Delivering the mount.
It felt great to have the telescope installed, even if I had no power to the building yet. I'm using an NEQ6 mount with a Quattro-S 8" OTA. PrimaLuceLab Eagle3 as the controlling computer and an ST-80 with ASI120MM-S as the guidescope. Imaging camera is an ASI1600MM-Pro with ZWO filterwheel and autofocuser.
Telescope in situ!
Here's a view of the track and rollers for the roof. These were the second most expensive item in the build after the timber itself. It works well and rolls very easily. I'm using four turnbuckles in the corners to keep the roof closed and for additional protection against wind lift.
Track, turnbuckles and fancy LED strip lighting. I like this because I get nice white light for maintenance and it can be set to a low red if I need it while imaging.
The next step was the install the all sky camera. I bought a kit from All Sky Optics which included weatherproof box, dome, camera holder etc. I'm using an ASI120MM-S as the camera and it's working well. I had planned to build a pole for it out of scrap wood, but my neighbour stopped by as I was about to start and offered to make one out of scrap metal instead.
Welding the mount for the all sky camera.
On the pole, the camera has a view over the roof whether it's open or closed.
Orienting the all sky camera. At some point I'll add automation to the observatory so the cloudwatcher can be attached here as well.
Sadly since installing the telescope and gettting power to the observatory I've only had one clear night, with no prospect of more for the rest of the week. That was spent configuring the telescope and dealing with a maddeningly frustrating problem where the Eagle3 wouldn't recognize the mount - turns out the driver for the EQDIR adapter I have was deliberately disabled by the manufacturer and I had to go find an older one. I polar aligned the mount then woke up my son to look at comet NEOWISE and the planets. All going well, I hope to have a proper first light with the observatory this weekend.
That's all for now!