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Thread: Personal Observatory for Canadian Climate

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    Default Personal Observatory for Canadian Climate



    I have made the decision that a Observatory would make life easier. As we grow in the hobby things become more complex. The equipment becomes difficult to move in and out of the garage or house.

    The climate here is Saskatchewan is always a challenge. An observatory that will be a permanent home to the pride-and-joy had better be well thought out. The first consideration is how to keep the thing put, given we can have winds up to 140km/hr, Rain, lightening, and snow are all part of what we can expect too.

    I have found a gentleman about 75 miles from my place that has a dome style observatory. He has a buddy that has a roll-off-roof(ROR). The ROR has been troublesome, which means the roof has blown off more than a few times. I will be travelling to see each of these building prior to committing construction.

    I will be building this project on my own. As a farmer I have been subjected to needing to learn many tricks over the years. Luckily I have some unique tools to aide in the build. Not everyone can build in a shop, and assemble at the site. A boom truck is a handy thing.

    I am all about getting it right the first time. There is nothing more frustrating than having to fix the issues with the next build. I like durability, my climate can be hard on things that don't stand up to the elements. I will use a steel pier with cement up through the floor, in the hope to keep the rest of the building in the location I started at. The dome and wall will be stick built and sheeted then fiberglassed. The real head scratcher is the turret assembly, more correctly how to keep the dome on the wall when the wind howls.

    My plan isn't set in stone. I have considered a ready-made, shipping costs are a real issue to my location. I'd like to hear of the shortfalls in my plan.

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    Default Re: Personal Observatory for Canadian Climate

    Good luck on this, sounds like a very worthwhile project! johnnyb
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    Default Re: Personal Observatory for Canadian Climate

    Hi Hillrat... Sounds like a GREAT project... Hope you post some pics as you go along.. Threads of Observatory Builds are always neat to see and follow..

    Clear Skies,

    Les

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    Default Re: Personal Observatory for Canadian Climate

    What the issue is may be a freak because we usually have very dry air in the winter time. This year the humidity has been crazy high. Standing at the scope with the breeze in my back it isn't too bad. Looking into the breeze is way less than enjoyable. I don't know where the humidity is coming from, this past year we only received 1.5" of rain, and have almost no snow.

    An interesting thing about my location is that the Jet Stream seems to pivot directly over my head. I had noticed it on the weather maps, and a couple buddies brought it up in separate conversations. One of them was a weather station manager for Environment Canada.

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    Default Re: Personal Observatory for Canadian Climate

    In the few domes that I have seen, the dome rides on wheels on a track and the dome has wheels that are hung below the track too to keep it attached to the track.
    John

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    Default Re: Personal Observatory for Canadian Climate

    Thanks John. I see you have your own, what are it's dimensions. I'm inclined to go with a 10' diameter. A long refractor with a DSLR attached takes up some real-estate, especially when your aiming and focusing it. If I had a SCT I might consider a 8'. (wink)

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    Default Re: Personal Observatory for Canadian Climate

    Quote Originally Posted by Hillrat View Post
    Thanks John. I see you have your own, what are it's dimensions. I'm inclined to go with a 10' diameter. A long refractor with a DSLR attached takes up some real-estate, especially when your aiming and focusing it. If I had a SCT I might consider a 8'. (wink)
    I have a skyshead POD that I picked up used from my local astronomy club, it had been donated by a member. It fits in a 8x8 deck that I built with the plan to build a ROR observatory on. I can use my AT115EDT in the observatory, but with little room to spare. As I mostly do astrophotograph it is not a problem. It is nice to have the pier in the observatory. One night spent getting a good polar alignment lasts a long time. I find that I can put the scope into hibernation and then wake it up, sync it on a star in the area I plan to image and I have good goto ability. Next, I need to build a warm room.
    John

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    Default Re: Personal Observatory for Canadian Climate

    For my Obsy. (RoR style) I'm using turnbuckles to secure the roof.
    I have 4 primary ones for when the roof is closed, but I also made it so when the roof is open, I can attach 3 of them to it to keep it from blowing off.
    My roof is probably around 500 lbs as it's fully framed and shingled, but I know it can still act as a giant sail in the winds we get here in New England.

    Good Luck!
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    Default Re: Personal Observatory for Canadian Climate

    Thanks guys. John if I'm not mistaken you did a thread on your POD didn't you? The square floor that you needed to weather-proof.... You did great job. Ya Jimmy, the ROR sure is tempting. Simple and a un-obstructed view of the sky with no messin' around to see it all. Which direction did your roof roll off to?

    I'm guessing here, but believe a lot of people who put up their own observatories do so so they don't have to set up and tear down their viewing equipment every time they use it. My case is more of a "protect me and the equipment from the wind". Where I am is rolling hills with little to nothing to slow the wind down. To top that off my fore-fathers decided to build on top of one. The yard site was developed not keeping the wind in mind, and wind funnels were created in several spots. My full sized dog with no legs (Bassett x Beagle) looks pretty funny dog-tracking sideways crossing these man-made wind tunnels when the wind gets cookin'.

    So I have lots of space with a clear shot at the sky. I do however want to run some power to it, keeping in mind all the other underground infrastructure. Where the snow blows in is also a concern. I have plowed enough of that stuff over the years to remember where the bad places are.

    I was wondering how much time other people spend looking close to the horizon. I know I don't, except for the odd occasion of looking for Mercury in the early December in the SW in the evening. The height of the pier and the wall will dictate what is viewable at lower declination. Also what I have read, few into AP take many picture at less than 30 degrees elevation (too much atmosphere to see through). Another assumption is that most would dedicate a observatory to one scope. I lack discipline and have more than one scope, but also have mounts to use outside the building.

    I have part of the floor of my old house, which is 2"x 12" fir. The joists have been dry piled and could make a great floor. Using these should save me considerable bucks.

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    Default Re: Personal Observatory for Canadian Climate

    Well you seem to be in the same boat that I am. I wanted an observatory to keep the scope setup in the winter so I didn't have to setup in the cold. I don't have bad winds, but when I do they are out of the northwest. As I usually image objects that are in the eastern sky, the POD has given me the added advantage of blocking the wind. I do have limits as to how low and how high in the sky I can image, problems that a ROR observatory may not have. My mount is attached to a concrete pier, so that is always at the ready, but I switch out different scopes as my target size changes. Switching scopes does not effect the polar alignment of the mount and doesn't effect the goto accuracy significantly. Power will be added in the spring, right now a long extension cord is being used, and I will address access to the POD with some steps this summer.
    John

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