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The Observatory Wish List

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9 replies to this topic

#1 hmaron

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Posted 11 June 2021 - 10:31 AM

I ask this with complete sincerity. I am currently building an observatory. I will spare you of the details but it is a vacation property on the river focused for flyfishing etc for my wife and I but I am hoping the residence will be used by all the kids and grandkids in my very large family..... whenever they choose.
What is helpful to know is the house is actually 2 structure. One is the main residence The other is separate is essentially a very large "Bunkhouse" and garage. The observatory is incorporated into this structure. The design is already complete. It is a product of my input but more importantly (and in addition to my architect) I also contracted with Observatory Solutions (Dave Miller) who worked with the architect on the technical elements of the observatory design.
So...the big stuff is all done.....actually "finalized". The scope and mount etc....well, to me that's all incidental to my question. Suffice it to say this is an observatory for astrophotography but on the rarest of occasion I might use it visually for the grandkids. So think 100% astrophotography. Though I hope to be present often I am building it for full remote capability since, the truth is, I won't be there often.

For perspective the size the dome is 16.5 feet in diameter. Access is already detailed and it's fully accessible with a large conventionally sized circular stairway.

So here nature of the request:

Based on what you did right or wrong, What are those small yet meaningful things that you either did right or regret not doing. To give you an example, a CN friend" who has an even larger observatory said that he never built enough standard lighting. Yes, he thought about red lighting etc, but he overlooked enough conventional lighting which he found he needed "all the time" to do work on the system. I think I would have made that same mistake instinctively. So that was very helpful. It may come down to creature comforts.
Anyway I would love to get the wishlist. I would think what scope/mount/cameras etc is all irrelevant.

I generally participate on other topics on the CN Forum. Yet, up until recently I never thought to peruse this area/topic of the forum. So, thanks in advance to any and all.

#2 ShaulaB

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Posted 11 June 2021 - 10:42 AM

Rodents. They enjoy chewing cables and building nests in the most inconvenient places. If you were thinking of keeping your gear in the observatory full time, take precautions.

We have also had a bird build a nest in the observatory and wasps building their structures.

#3 Eye stein

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Posted 11 June 2021 - 11:06 AM

I have found that an observing chair on wheels with up-down handle(you know like an office chair has) so you can sneak up on the eyepiece when the scope is up.

also I use aluminum foil to cover scope ...(emergency solar blanket) in case of leak and reflecting heat 

I use zip lock bags to cover usb chord ends  etc

My cameras stay inside the house along with laptop...computer carry bag works great...

wish my dome was that big and the light thing ..absolutely..

best

JL



#4 kathyastro

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Posted 11 June 2021 - 11:14 AM

1. Internet to the Observatory.  That way you can use it from home via remote access.

 

2. Fully-automatic auto-close on rain detection.  It should not be dependent on computer software (i.e. Windows or Mac.  Arduino is OK.), and it should not be dependent on grid power.  You want it too stupid to fail, and with battery backup.  That way, you can fire up a remote session and still sleep peacefully.



#5 rgsalinger

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Posted 11 June 2021 - 11:19 AM

A few things occur to me:

 

Make sure that you have a pad for your pier that isolated from the rest of the observatory. That will let people walk around and not disturb any imaging activities. 

 

Figure out exactly how all of the communications are going to work - where to put a router or switch - and build in some flexibility to move things around. If I were building from scratch I'd have LAN ports as companions to every power outlet and I'd have more power outlets than I have now. 

 

If you can afford it get one of the PierTech motorized piers. They retain their orientation as they extend. That will allow you to image at the horizon if you want and/or get an eyepiece at a more convenient level.

 

I assume, but will mention it anyway, that the pad should have both ethernet and power going to it. If you are operating remotely you really need a digital logger. To support that having more than one ethernet connection is much more convenient. I also like the idea of a spare wire for power. 

 

You need a security camera so that you can watch your system at all times. If you even suspect that it's "lost" that way you can tell without a doubt. 

 

We have a separate warming room in our 20x40 observatory. There is only one door in the warm room and that door goes into the observatory. If you're not in a high crime area, put a second door directly to the outside from the warm room. That way you can go out of the warm room without any stray light entering the observatory. 

 

Rgrds-Ross



#6 bobzeq25

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Posted 11 June 2021 - 12:30 PM

Solar power, instead of running wires.  Cheap, easy.  I regret not doing it from the very start.  Most everything can run off 12V, if not, converters are cheap and reliable.

 

One thing on your list is as far from being irrelevant as it gets.  The mount.  Buy the best you can afford.  There's basically no such thing as overkill, when it comes to a mount.  Particularly if you're going to have it mounted permanently, and not have to deal with weight.

 

Not buying enough mount is a common reason for regret.


Edited by bobzeq25, 11 June 2021 - 12:37 PM.

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#7 GDAstrola

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Posted 11 June 2021 - 12:39 PM

Establish a rule for the entire property that night time is dark and will stay that way.  Should your extended family want all their insecurity lights on 24/7, then perhaps they should board elsewhere. 



#8 hmaron

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Posted 11 June 2021 - 02:00 PM

I am taking notes. And I really appreciate.
Maybe I should emphasize this. Although this is located in a second structure (which we affectionately call The Bunkhouse),it is a home with all the creature comforts and all the technology of such. And yes, the observatory is completely permanent.
I am 100% confident that the big equipment and technical issues I have addressed. The astro issues (mount/scope/automation/construction/"pad" isolation, EL panel) are all addressed.
It's those often overlooked experiential matters...like the rolling chair, the second door from the "warm room", LAN ports (heck I was even considering running fiber, who knows in 4-5 years what's standard), family and lighting rules....all those things we may tend to overlook...that's what I particularly loved hearing. Are there things you regret not having at your disposal in the dome. Heck, a coat closet? I'm serious..... anything? Retrofitting is always harder than thinking ahead.
I'm serious. I have never had my own observatory. What might I miss? But just know, my warm room is the "home" itself.

I did want to comment on Rodents and such. The entire home is being constructed trying to comply with the highest standards of being "creature" proof. It is so important and people often overlook that vermin are such a problem when building in more rural or remote environments. Criters literally wreak havoc in ways us city dwellers could never even believe. And it is particularly tough to criter proof the observatory itself because, by design, it is open to the elements often. Even when the shutter is closed nothing is fully sealed. Again, thank you.

Lastly, Kathy thank you. I have had significant brainstorming on the issue weather monitoring and power redundancy. Who cares if the system goes down...as long as that **** shutter closes!!!! That's true 1000 miles away or even sleeping in a room nearby.

#9 drprovi57

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Posted 11 June 2021 - 07:20 PM

Over the years I have built several observatories ranging from roll-off to dome observatories.  I hope I have my final observatory after a long journey of discovery.  All of the excellent advice is spot on.  I can only few additional considerations:

  • Power to the observatory and plenty of it (I have 60 Amps) - for dome operations, equipment, AC, etc - I would also add plenty of electrical outlets and good UPS for protection and loss of power
  • Observatory control - get the best you can afford.. I have Astrometic Systems - costly but reliable and highly capable
  • High-speed internet - 10 Gbit fiber for remote operations
  • a rock solid pier - lots of information here on CN
  • camera’s for remote operation - on/off IR
  • storage shelves and cabinets for equipment storage

Hopes this helps

Jason



#10 hmaron

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Posted Yesterday, 10:45 AM

Over the years I have built several observatories ranging from roll-off to dome observatories.  I hope I have my final observatory after a long journey of discovery.  All of the excellent advice is spot on.  I can only few additional considerations:

  • Power to the observatory and plenty of it (I have 60 Amps) - for dome operations, equipment, AC, etc - I would also add plenty of electrical outlets and good UPS for protection and loss of power
  • Observatory control - get the best you can afford.. I have Astrometic Systems - costly but reliable and highly capable
  • High-speed internet - 10 Gbit fiber for remote operations
  • a rock solid pier - lots of information here on CN
  • camera’s for remote operation - on/off IR
  • storage shelves and cabinets for equipment storage
Hopes this helps
Jason

Very much so! Thank you


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