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fatwoul

Valley Observatory* is Really Happening!!

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I don't wish to be a spamtard, I really don't. I know I've already posted a thread here about digging/concreting the base, and the adapter plate for the top, but...

PierSML.jpg

MY PIER IS INSTALLED!!

Sorry, I'm just really excited. It's all coming together. I'm not famous for my ability to stick with things, but I've finally got a project underway for which my enthusiasm never seems to wane. Well, it does, but only during month-long cloudy spells like we've been having, which is why I'm building.

A surrounding deck is the next phase, and I hope to be in a position to get my POD by Easter (depending more on Altair's importing of them than my ability to pay for it!)

In the meantime, now that I have a permanent base for my scopes, and a Green Witch cover, I am finally in a position to leave my rig set up during clear spells, allowing me to spend more time setting things up properly, and doing more than grabbed single images of the occasional DSO.

I haven't been this worked-up about something in years, so please be patient during my infantile, excitable posts (I'm sure there will be several more!)

Thanks to everyone for their advice and help so far, and for all the support I know you'll lend me as I progress.

* Valley Observatory is what I am calling it. I already have the domain name, and as soon as there is anything there to see, I'll be adding the link to my account.

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Sounds like you have plenty of work ahead and some great plans :icon_eek:

Looking forward to seeing this progress.

If ya don't mind, where you based?

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This brings back memories for me of 3 years ago.... I was described at the time as being like a child waiting for Christmas (when there was a slight delay in the arrival of the shed). It can be a bit of a roller-coaster ride, but worth it in the end.

Keep sharing the excitement with us!!!

Helen

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Sounds like you have plenty of work ahead and some great plans :icon_eek:

Looking forward to seeing this progress.

If ya don't mind, where you based?

I don't mind at all. I am based about 3 miles outside Plymouth city centre, in a valley (hence Valley Observatory). So I have the damp, cloudy, foggy south-west weather, the glow of a city of 300,000 people, and an obscured southern (well, southern to western) sky. Together, these are the reasons We haven't built something more permanent for our telescopes sooner; we've always figured we might move somewhere else at some point. But after 25 years in the same house, I don't see a move on the horizon.

After looking around here and other sites, and seeing that there are plenty of people in locations worse than mine doing some fantastic astrophotography, I realised that things like filters, astro cameras and processing software have come a long way in the last fifteen years. So I decided to wait no longer. My logic is that years spent fighting with adverse location/conditions to produce adequate results is still time better spent than just sitting around waiting for a better opportunity that may never come.

Edited by fatwoul

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the project is coming on really well, keep at it, my home/garden is a waste of time so i travel a little way to get better viewing conditions

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"I don't see a move on the horizon"

Now you have said it you will be out of that house in a year!

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"I don't see a move on the horizon"

Now you have said it you will be out of that house in a year!

Hahaha never a truer word...!

The thing is, though, that with the plans I am making - the pier, POD, etc - its all stuff that can be moved. So long as I move somewhere else with a garden of 8x8 feet or larger, I'll always have somewhere to at least keep the stuff!

The only bit I'd have to do again would be the concrete and the decking, and that's easily the cheapest part of the whole thing, so in my mind it is still a worthwhile project, even if a move WAS likely in the next few years.

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Do piers have "first light", or is that only telescopes?

Either way, I tried my pier for the first time this evening. My EQ6 is already mounted on the pier, and I plan to leave it out there if possible - I'll check for damp frequently, and at the first sign the mount will come back in.

I'm still feeling pretty weak and shaky (bad cold this week has screwed up my breathing and all sorts), so I didn't feel like dragging my MN190 out. Instead, I put my little 80ED on, and did some rough alignment. I then spent an hour or two cruising around the sky looking at stuff, testing the alignment, the rigidity, etc.

It worked a treat. I moved the telescope around all over the place to make sure it doesn't hit the pier. I might have to keep an eye on it near zenith, as the eyepiece looked in danger of hitting the rather large top plate of the pier, but otherwise it was absolutely fine. Whether the MN190 will be as straightforward I don't know, but if it isn't, I'm sure I'll work something out.

What really impressed me was the rigidity. Even my inexperienced, amateur eyes could tell the difference between the pier and the EQ6's tripod. The view was very solid, and stabilised much quicker after I touched the Crayford.

Without a doubt, the best part of the pier experience was packing-up. I didn't want to be out late on account of being all pathetic and fragile at the moment, but I was back indoors and everything packed away in about 6-7 minutes? No more than that. That has to be 20 minutes faster than I'm used to.

The thought of how much quicker and more simple it will be when the dome is finished is an exciting one. And the idea of being able to use the telescope(s) for an hour or so, during clear spells in the cloud (rather than having to wait for completely clear nights to even bother) is going to mean my whole rig getting used a great deal more than it has done so far.

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I bought the wood for the deck yesterday. Well, the structural wood. I'll build that this weekend and buy the decking boards next Wednesday.

Thanks dad, for being old enough to qualify for a B&Q coffin-dodger discount card. :)

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Cheers guys. Although I've only had my own "proper" scope since the summer, I did my astro degree back in the last century, and it finally feels like I am returning to something I enjoy and really care about.

Dave - Originally I didn't think I had any room for bays, and I am still not sure, but I decided that I needed at least one bay, if only to keep a dehumidifier and maybe a computer. Given more space I'd have probably gone for three, like you did. However, I am also planning on running the obsy from indoors, especially during the winter (!), so the computer out in the dome might not need to be any more than a tower, remote-desktopped to my main computer in the house.

I am currently running the scope and camera off a little 7" netbook, which doesn't need much space. I'm considering building a free-standing table around the pier. The idea would be a shelf, perhaps 8 inches deep, running around at least half the circumference of the pier. but standing free of it, supported only by the decking. I'd use this shelf for the netbook.

I've also now - for good or bad - filled my pier with sand. I know there are different schools of thought on the effectiveness of sand in metal piers. I managed to get kiln dried sand, which was true to its word, and as dry as...sand. So since there was little chance of anything growing in the sand I didn't feel the need to use bags inside the pier, and just poured it in directly. The effect was instantly very pleasing, with the bell-ringing characteristic of the pier instantly gone. I know the hole in the base of the pier was designed to allow cables to run inside, but my EQ6 bolt obstructs the top hole, and I don't like the idea of the cables being inaccessible anyway. So I dropped a 6 inch flower pot tray into the bottom of the pier before the sand, to stop it draining out through the hole.

At the very least the sand adds another 50Kg (10% of the concrete base) to the total mass of the structure.

For anybody interested in the superficial, I have ordered my POD all-white. After discussion with my parents (whose garden it is going in), we decided white best matched the house. For my part, I also felt it would be the best colour for keeping the temperature down during the summer, reducing cool-down times in the evening. I also felt it looked nice and "sciencey"!

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IMG_0444.jpg

The deck's about done...

(Excuse the large image - it was deliberate, so the details of the deck could be seen. If it's annoying I'll resize.)

Edited by fatwoul

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It worked a treat. I moved the telescope around all over the place to make sure it doesn't hit the pier. I might have to keep an eye on it near zenith, as the eyepiece looked in danger of hitting the rather large top plate of the pier, but otherwise it was absolutely fine. Whether the MN190 will be as straightforward I don't know, but if it isn't, I'm sure I'll work something out.

I have the same pier and you will have to watch it near zenith, I have cracked the filter wheel into it countless times.:glasses1:

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I have the same pier and you will have to watch it near zenith, I have cracked the filter wheel into it countless times.:glasses1:

That's very good to know. I might be OK, as my final rig will be my MN190 and a small refractor as guidescope, on a dual bar. With the lateral balancing available due to the dual bar, I might be able to position the camera/eyepiece/filterwheel to one side, and counterbalance it with the dual bar. I'll definitely keep an eye out for collisions, though. Thank you.

looking impressive - is there going to be an open -day when its finished :)

You may jest, but yes. I plan on having a few sessions for people to visit if they would like. A lot of the students at my workplace have expressed an interest, and anybody else would be welcome too.

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Sorry, Martin, I was having a dim moment. Of course my eyepiece was in danger on the end of the refractor, but won't be on my MN190, as it will be at the top! I will have to be careful that the OTA doesn't get scratched or dented though.

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I've posted these elsewhere, but for the sake of showing the progress, here there are again:

RJM1.jpg

RJM2.jpg

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