Astrophotography in Central Mass 

LinkedIn RSS
Home Gallery Maple Observatory Construction

Maple Observatory Construction

Published on 2015-10-30, by

From the first night with our family telescope in December I realized that observing through the living room window wasn’t going to cut it, no matter how much I cleaned the glass. So I ventured outdoors and caught my first glimpse of Jupiter. The rest is history, we had to invest in a larger telescope and it needed to be setup outdoors away from the thermal currents of the house and the optical distortions of window panes. I won’t even mention the thunderous tremors of two children running around on hard wood floors whilst trying to keep an object in view.

Laptop setup and ready to control everything

First telescope (left) toys and second astrophotography telescope (right)

So, I began setting up outside. The next realization I had was that it was really, REALLY, cold outside in New England when you stand still and try to manipulate metal levers and knobs with bare hands. Our larger telescope arrived in late January when comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy was visible to the naked eye as a faint bluegreen nebulosity and even more vivid through a telescope. Around this time there were nights with temperatures -7F and 10-30 mph wind gusts. I wanted so badly to look through the telescope and I simply couldn’t bare to be outdoors even bundled up for more than 15 minutes at a time. I also began to experience cold temperature related equipment failures usually due to brittle plastic.

My son standing in the path I cut through one of our snow drifts.

My son standing in the path I cut through one of our snow drifts.

Enter the laptop and camera. It was a no-brainer that a remote controlled mount and camera would allow me to sit comfortably indoors and explore the sky. A laptop with software and cameras to image and guide soon followed. I still had to cart the telescope, weights, tripod, cables, laptop, and all accouterments in and out every night and morning–always dreaming of an observatory.

This Fall I made one big step towards a permanent home for the telescope. I dig a massive hole all the way down to ledge and filled it with ~800lbs of concrete reinforced with steel rebar. The top was poured into a small cutting of sonotube leftover from my club’s pier project to make it nice and round and aesthetically appealing. Into this I sunk long anchorbolts. I made a pier out of the box aluminum post of an old fire alarm call box that happened to have come with my house. I’m clearing trees and eventually the shed that came with my house will be relocated on top of the pier. The roof will be separated from the walls and placed on rollers allowing it to be rolled away exposing the entire sky when viewing/imaging.

Click on the images in the gallery below to view the full sized original or use the slideshow to click through each one more easily.

© 2015 Charles Kelley Stevenson