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I just went on a visit to a residential education centre.

They have a huge steel telescope dome on top of a building, nearly 4m across!

No mount inside since it was left tracking for a few days while the cables wound up and ripped everything to bits 😞

All they do now is occasional set up outside and view the moon.

I suggested that for a modest budget they could get an EQ6, a big refractor a good colour camera and have an EAA setup to the now disused computer room on the mezzanine below the dome (from the days when computers were all desktops with less power than your phone).

It will need to be a very simple setup, as they don't have an astronomer on the staff these days.

They may be able to raise a modest budget over the next year. Any thoughts or suggestions for a simple setup?

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Posted (edited)

The fact - No astronomer...

Suggests... SCT or Refractor... and more £££ than just a bit for Newtonian.... + cam...

And even refractor would need someone who is more or less familiar with that hobby... (+mount issues, +imaging issues...)

I would suggest, to look for a few local astronomers, who would be interested in using the dome and instead of paying the rent, they would manage the demos needed for the center.

It's empty now anyway.

 

Edited by RolandKol
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The idea of inviting outside users has been considered, but complicated by child protection/security issues as it's a residential site for children down to primary age.

They appear to still have a telescope, but I'm not sure what it is.

Yes something requiring less maintenance than a Newt may be a good idea.

The dome deserves an EQ8 with a big SCT or frac or a huge newtonian, but in practice, even a 130P-DS with an HEQ5 or an 80-90mm frac could get it used.

It is likely to spend its time looking at bright and easily captured targets, I suspect a longer focal length.

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On Astronomy Open Weeks, our Obs. in the Borders was manned every night by volunteers.
Children Had  to be accompanied by parents, parent, or an Adult relative
Identification was required.

Was the instruments and auxiliaries not insured ? it seems like 
a simply forgot to  'Switch Off Gaff' So claiming could be possible.
Wouldn't make sense to assume a deliberate act.

I'm assuming this Observatory is in Staffordshire, so there should be 
Amateur Astronomers in abundance in that location, I would hope.
How many are registered on SGL I wonder ?
Seems like an excellent resource is going to waste. Very sad.

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Posted (edited)

Although I'm obviously completely unqualified to outfit a large dome, although id love to :D! I would say that a heavy mount would be the best way to go. That way, the mount will never need to be replaced, lets face it the mounts one of the most expensive bits. Then a good, fast Newt like say one of the larger size pds range, which will show both planets and faint DSOs easily.

A camera isn't really awfully necessary to start with imo, so long as theres a good scope for visual. 

The part about there being no resident astronomer is the biggest issue--"simple" just doesn't really happen inn astronomy. I don't know if a large Go-To dob would count as simple?

I wish an empty dome like that existed in our town :( I would set my stuff up in it, learn how to pronounce the stars right, and keep it! :D 

I'd suggest installing an @Stu. I've heard stand-ups are very fashionable in observatories these days! 🤭 <gets insta-banned for impertinence to mods>

In all seriousness though, an observatory really needs someone with experience involved in it all.

John

Edited by JohnSadlerAstro
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43 minutes ago, JohnSadlerAstro said:

I'd suggest installing an @Stu. I've heard stand-ups are very fashionable in observatories these days! 🤭 <gets insta-banned for impertinence to mods>

John, I’m obviously in slow mode because that one has gone by me completely! Sure it will dawn on me sooner or later :) 

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To justify doing anything, it needs to be something that can  be used with large groups, they host 90 youngsters at a time, although probably in 2 or 3 separate groups. That means EAA to have a real use for them.

It's possible the mount survived and is 'somewhere' but it was several years ago so any sort of claim is unlikely now.

Yes , I would have a word with a club to see if someone could mentor them (I can help, but my knowledge is restricted to my own kit and eavesdropping in here).

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