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VilleM

Fully remote observatory for imaging

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Hi, me and my friend have been working on this project for about 8 months now. Thought I would share it with this community aswell. :)

Nicknamed "Castle of clouds" -our observatory is located in Varkaus, Finland. Its built in the vicinity of Taurus Hill Observatory (our local astronomy club owns the land but we had a chance to rent a piece of it).
We chose this place for our project mainly because everything from electrical grid to internet (and sauna!) had already been built there and it was easily accesible. Light pollution on the site is next to none (Borttle 3), SQM reading from lightpollutionmap.info is 21.83.

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Our observatory is fully automated and can be opened remotely with a DIY USB relay control. The same control system also can switch on infrared LED lights for our security cameras and turn on two flat panels. For moving the roof we are using garage door motor with bicycle chain. The chain is attached to a set of heavy duty springs that soften the start. Motor stops automatically when limit switch is hit by spring loaded metal rod. This prevents limit switches from breaking when roof touches them.

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Inside of our observatory there is two telescopes, mine is very wide field narrowband imaging setup. Im using HEQ5, ZWO ASI1600MM-C, QHYCFW3S -filter wheel with Baader 36mm filters, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM. Focusing is done with USB Focus V3. The other telescope is my friends 6" f/4 Newton with ASI1600MM-C and EFW on EQ6. This setup is autoguided with guidescope. Mine doesnt need it with only 135mm focal lenght.

Because our observatory is fully remote, we ensured power to the telescopes and PC's with UPS. Its protected from the cold with insulated box and a small heater that keeps inside temperature at 5°C. A small battery powers the roof so we can always close it if there is a power outage. Inside the gray box is all of the control electronics, fuses, etc. for every device. Also we placed ASI120MM inside so we can monitor the weather and shoot timelapses etc. Focus is a bit off though, will fix that soon. :) UPS is underneath the control electronics inside that wooden box.

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Also lately we installed heater cables to melt snow and ice off of our rails.

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Roof opening. 😎

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View from the "almost all sky" -camera.

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We have had alot of clouds lately, but here is my first light. 52x180s H-alpha. Planning to do a narrowband mosaic with Sh2-129. :)

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Edited by VilleM
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A great project! Having completed my own remotely operated observatory I know how much work is involved and I wish you great success for the future. :thumbsup:

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Yes indeed a noteworthy project. Can the roof shut whatever the telescope is pointing?

Regards Andrew 

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Love this, what a great project, congratulations. Above all I love the image that all of this has made possible. Excellent field of view and composition. Look forward to seeing the completed image. Good luck with it all. 

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14 hours ago, andrew s said:

Yes indeed a noteworthy project. Can the roof shut whatever the telescope is pointing?

Regards Andrew 

My scope wont fit under the roof whenever the declination is >60N, so custom park position is needed. The next step in automation field would be getting the roof to discuss with SGP. Also - we will st some point need some kind of a weather sensor to close the roof automatically as the session ends due to the sunrise or clouds (or rain)

I've had my problems with the f/4 Newt, but I've managd to get a couple of projects finished. 

HOO bicolor of M27. 6 hours on integration

27sgl.jpg

16 hours of Sh2-132 in SHO

132sgl.jpg

Edited by Erik P
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And here's project pictures from the summer :)

IMG_20190511_233115_187.jpg.ae44b3e88d3a5ed9478d078c48f68400.jpg

 

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Edited by Erik P
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Fabulous project and well done completing what you had designed to do. I am part way through fully automating my Pulsar Dome, The last hurdle is to automate the opening & closing of the shutter. 

Steve

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Here is some images Ive shot recently, as Im typing this both of our telescopes are at work. Its 3rd clear night in a row! 🙂

Heart and soul nebula, two panel mosaic.
Total exposure time is 22 hours (11 hours of Ha and 11 hours of OIII, 180s subs). I think I could improve my processing but for now Im quite happy with it.

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This is my latest project, Simeis 147 also known as Sh2-240. 16 hours of H-alpha (320x180s). I might shoot some O3 and S2 to get coloured version later.

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As I recall, I didn't find any OIII or SII in Simeis 147 when I imaged it several years ago.

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Great thread, looks a real professional job, and look at those images, wow!

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Very impressive and professional work this!

How remote is "remote".  

It never ceases to amaze me that people trust a remote observatory to work properly.  I'm not so much techno-phobic as  techno-sceptic. 🙂 

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Brilliant project and opportunity especially with Bortle 3 skies, Best i have ever seen was Bortle 4. 

Just wondering how much of a bite out of your sky the Main observatory takes and which direction it is in in relation to your obsy.

Carole 

 

 

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Thank you all for your kind comments. :)
 

On 11/11/2019 at 14:44, Ouroboros said:

Very impressive and professional work this!

How remote is "remote".  

It never ceases to amaze me that people trust a remote observatory to work properly.  I'm not so much techno-phobic as  techno-sceptic. 🙂 

Erik lives ~300 kilometers and I live ~150 kilometers away from the observatory. So yes, its quite far away.
We both were sceptical about everything and tried to do as much fail safe solutions as we can, while keeping the mechanism and electronics as simple as possible.

Carole: The main dome is west of our observatory, it only takes ~10 degrees above the tree line so its not a big deal at all.


Here is my latest image, Auriga region in SHO palette. This is my first SHO processing.
Ha 79x180s,
OIII 72x180s, SII 70x180s. Total integration time little over 11 hours, I might need more Ha because some of it is very faint.

aurigaSHO.thumb.jpg.17a5164342c350cee51642d79c3c59ca.jpg

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