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Thread: Key information every amateur astronomer should have, per Dr. Clay

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    Exclamation Key information every amateur astronomer should have, per Dr. Clay



    Virtually every AA would like to have an observatory (ob). Many who have one have regrets about what they "wooda, shoudda or couldda" done. I polled Dr. P. Clay Sherrod on the subject and his comments are below.

    Dr Clay (Arkansas Sky Observatory - 2001 Guides), of whom many of you know, is a retired professional astronomer, author, educator, continuing researcher, and a mentor to our community. Google his name for more...

    BTW, one of his books: A Complete Manual of Amateur Astronomy: Tools and Techniques for Astronomical Observations, belongs on every AA's bookshelf. Its chock-full of great information as is his website.

    Dr. Clay's comments:

    There are disadvantages and advantages to having an attached observatory; I have both, and have designed both for individuals and schools throughout the country and have learned the good, bad and ugly.....

    Advantages:
    1) proximity and lessening of the "white elephant excuse": the observatory is right next to a hallway or stairway and you are far more prone to use it than if it were, say, 100 feet up a hill.
    2) Health: big factor. If the owner is on the older side, such as me, or is handicapped in the least way, having an attached observatory is a big advantage.
    3) Reference: it is amazing how many trips one makes from an exterior observatory to a home or other building to retrieve data, books, charts, food, coffee or supplies.

    Disadvantages of Attached Observatories:
    1) Heat currents.....heat currents....heat currents. Summer or winter, the heat coming from any other building can ruin observations, even low power visual ones. The best location for an observatory is in the middle of a mowed grassy lawn or field with the nearest building some 200 feet distance. Even my observatory shop on the large building at Petit Jean South radiates a very annoying amount of heat from its attic.

    2) Vibrations....it is amazing how so many vibrations can carry through the ground from one building to another: loud TV, air conditioning unit, etc.

    3) Electromagnetic interference - big factor. Interference to encoders, GPS sensors, CCD cameras (big time), LPI and DSI type equipment and Digital reflex cameras are very problematic when close to other buildings....same sources as #2), above.

    4) Interruptions.....boy, I bet you did not think of this one. It is amazing how many times you WILL be interrupted from your relaxing project or tour of the sky if your observatory is located attached to your primary residence or office.

    5) Did I say "Heat Currents?"

    The worst place for any observatory is on the roof of any other structure that is not built to contain heat without night time radiation. Observatories on top of University buildings, rooftop gables, barns.....none will ever allow the telescope to perform up to potential. Likewise, any driveway, parking lot or packed dirt extended area will suffer from heat currents.

    The best location for any observatory is in the middle of a large quiet LAKE, such as the solar observatory at Big Bear, California. The water is totally equalized and unless the night air cools very rapidly, there will be a column of steady and minimally refractive air above the observatory throughout the night. Alternately, an observatory surrounded by a thick blanket of ice or snow is afforded the same advantage.

    Dr. Clay
    _____
    Arkansas Sky Observatories
    MPC H45 - Petit Jean Mountain South
    MPC H41 - Petit Jean Mountain
    MPC H43 - Conway West
    Arkansas Sky Observatories - (Astronomical Observatories)

    Many thanks to you, Dr Clay !

    BobDob
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    ... awesome post ... thanks ... (scribbling notes here) ...

    ... 200' ... got it ... can't dig up the back yard and make a lake out of it (dangit) ...

    ... not attached to the house, for all of the above and afore mentioned reasons "plus two" ... my twin boys ... never thought of the "interruptions" ... that's a huge save there man ...

    ... very good stuff ... very good ...

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    Bill - "Recreational 'Stronomer" and "Astro-Junk User" ... EGO lego , proinde EGO operor ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by seapsalm View Post
    Alternately, an observatory surrounded by a thick blanket of ice or snow is afforded the same advantage.
    I observe every winter out in the open with piles of snow all around me, sometimes as much as eight feet high, but they have never aleviated the poor seeing conditions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by star drop View Post
    I observe every winter out in the open with piles of snow all around me, sometimes as much as eight feet high, but they have never aleviated the poor seeing conditions.
    See, the thing is, you close the dome shutters or keep the roof rolled in 'til you're ready to observe. Theeeennnn, you open 'er up! Got it now ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by seapsalm View Post
    Virtually every AA would like to have an observatory (ob). Many who have one have regrets about what they "wooda, shoudda or couldda" done. I polled Dr. P. Clay Sherrod on the subject and his comments are below.

    Dr Clay (Arkansas Sky Observatory - 2001 Guides), of whom many of you know, is a retired professional astronomer, author, educator, continuing researcher, and a mentor to our community. Google his name for more...

    BTW, one of his books: A Complete Manual of Amateur Astronomy: Tools and Techniques for Astronomical Observations, belongs on every AA's bookshelf. Its chock-full of great information as is his website.

    Dr. Clay's comments:

    There are disadvantages and advantages to having an attached observatory; I have both, and have designed both for individuals and schools throughout the country and have learned the good, bad and ugly.....

    Advantages:
    1) proximity and lessening of the "white elephant excuse": the observatory is right next to a hallway or stairway and you are far more prone to use it than if it were, say, 100 feet up a hill.
    2) Health: big factor. If the owner is on the older side, such as me, or is handicapped in the least way, having an attached observatory is a big advantage.
    3) Reference: it is amazing how many trips one makes from an exterior observatory to a home or other building to retrieve data, books, charts, food, coffee or supplies.

    Disadvantages of Attached Observatories:
    1) Heat currents.....heat currents....heat currents. Summer or winter, the heat coming from any other building can ruin observations, even low power visual ones. The best location for an observatory is in the middle of a mowed grassy lawn or field with the nearest building some 200 feet distance. Even my observatory shop on the large building at Petit Jean South radiates a very annoying amount of heat from its attic.

    2) Vibrations....it is amazing how so many vibrations can carry through the ground from one building to another: loud TV, air conditioning unit, etc.

    3) Electromagnetic interference - big factor. Interference to encoders, GPS sensors, CCD cameras (big time), LPI and DSI type equipment and Digital reflex cameras are very problematic when close to other buildings....same sources as #2), above.

    4) Interruptions.....boy, I bet you did not think of this one. It is amazing how many times you WILL be interrupted from your relaxing project or tour of the sky if your observatory is located attached to your primary residence or office.

    5) Did I say "Heat Currents?"

    The worst place for any observatory is on the roof of any other structure that is not built to contain heat without night time radiation. Observatories on top of University buildings, rooftop gables, barns.....none will ever allow the telescope to perform up to potential. Likewise, any driveway, parking lot or packed dirt extended area will suffer from heat currents.

    The best location for any observatory is in the middle of a large quiet LAKE, such as the solar observatory at Big Bear, California. The water is totally equalized and unless the night air cools very rapidly, there will be a column of steady and minimally refractive air above the observatory throughout the night. Alternately, an observatory surrounded by a thick blanket of ice or snow is afforded the same advantage.

    Dr. Clay
    _____
    Arkansas Sky Observatories
    MPC H45 - Petit Jean Mountain South
    MPC H41 - Petit Jean Mountain
    MPC H43 - Conway West
    Arkansas Sky Observatories - (Astronomical Observatories)

    Many thanks to you, Dr Clay !

    BobDob
    Excellent post. Bill and I are both taking notes....Thanks

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    I just roll my telescope out of the shed and set up the ladder. No shutters or roll off roof observatory for me.

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    Talking

    Yeah but, do you tunnel under the 8 foot snowdrifts, or have a snowblower, or? Com'on, out with the secret...thawing minds need to know, or at least I thawt they did ...
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    Compact tractor with a front bucket.
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    Thumbs up



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    Hi bob ..How goes it ? ?
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