Our new location for the observatory is at about 1100 feet elevation nestled in the South Branch Valley of the Potomac Highlands. The valley's ridges, which run more or less North to South, are around 2000 to over 2600 feet high to the East and West of the new location. This is a view looking to the West. The observatory will be built out in the field.
This is a view looking East from the observatory site.
This site has borderline Bortle Class 3 skies according to a couple of online conversion charts for converting SQM readings to the Bortle Scale. I've been taking SQM meter readings occasionally in the field and the average sky quality is reading around 21.32 so far. Once things settle down I'll start taking SQM readings on a more regular basis to get a better picture of how the skies vary from season to season.
The new observatory dome will be the 12-1/2' metal "Lancaster" dome I've had stored for the last decade. It's construction is a lot more involved than that of the smaller one-piece Exploradome I was using.
Actually, the first phase of building the new obs is finishing out the 14x30 metal building on site. It's been insulated and the interior walls completed, and houses my electronics lab, all my other hobbies, and will serve as the warm room for the observatory computers. I'm installing all the needed infrastructure, including a gigabit network running back to the house where it ties into a fiber Internet connection, and will eventually continue over to the observatory dome which will be about 200-feet away from the house.
The server and workstations are up and running and I've been installing astronomy-related software. And I can start integrating the equipment and configuring software for the mount, cameras, focuser, and filter wheel in the comfort of the lab.
The parts of the Lancaster Dome are waiting to be assembled, but that won't start until spring. Since I don't have detailed drawings or an assembly manual, it needs to be at least partially assembled just to get accurate dome dimensions for drawing up the building and wheel base. And I need to confirm there are no missing pieces.
The dome could be built in place on top of the obs walls or constructed on the ground first, to make the work of cutting the aperture and fitting the panels easier. But it would still likely need to be at least partially disassembled to move and install it on the observatory building.
more to come...
Page created 7/24/2022
Last edited 3/10/2023
Last edited 3/10/2023