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Let's build an astronomical osbervatory - Introduction

  

Greetings to all of you. Yes, as the title suggest it, this series of articles will be focused on building an astronomical observatory. Yet another construction project should I say. There is a lot of people that are sharing their experience on this subject. So why do it too?
Going through this project will require several skills. There will be construction, electricity, electronics, software programming and of course bandage, burns, headaches, bugs... A lot of fun that's for sure. We will get inspiration from the internet community’s projects and back we will provide our solutions and improvements. Of course, there is no such thing as the best solution. I just want to share our goal and approaches. 
You can take for granted that some solutions qualified as good at a specific time will be remade later. The whole process, the path to our final operative observatory is certainly where lies the most of our implication and I believe it deserves to be recorded and shared.

So? An astronomical observatory? Just that? but what do I mean by that?
After all, the first and simplest observatory is your eyes and a clear sky. On the other hand, this can go quite far in complexity, up to a Hubble clone device.... well, let's keep it in between. First, our wish list. At this stage of the project don't let us bother with what is feasible or not. What do we wish?

Our observatory, will be equipped with a telescope of a diameter that will start at 254mm. It will be equipped with a camera fixed to the primary tube with a filter wheel and a focuser.
The finderscope will also be equipped with a camera. It will be used for large field pictures but also for long exposures autoguiding.
Of course a good mount is necessary and we will use a motorized equatorial mount to have a maximum of stability during long photography poses. 

Ok that sounds nice but since it is an observatory, shouldn't we try to be able to use it any time? even during day time? What do we need to make sun observations? 
Let's add a secondary telescope equipped with a Coronographe, a camera and the proper filters to protect everything from sun's special attentions.
Could we place a big filter in front of the primary and use the 254mm mirror to get some pictures from Sun's surface? that would be nice.

 

 

That is starting to make a lot of equipment and it sounds heavy too. To protect it, we have to find a place called home. It will be a dome that will follow its movements.
A weather station should be installed to provide alerts if the wind goes too strong. The weather station will provide several other sensors to get a real-time glance at the site's status.

We need some room for all that equipment and since we are building something ambitious, it is hard to guess where we will stop. So, lets take a 3m dome. This leaves us plenty of space for improvements. We will also need a place to install everything and of course some electrical power.

       

     

Ok, now, lets step back and take a look at the big picture. These sounds crazy, and there is a lot of challenges to overcome before being able to succeed, but we are not in a rush. We have to take every step one after another. To each problem, we will face, we will find a solution. And if I say WE, it's because I found that when it comes to astronomy, space observations and to science projects in general, we always find plenty of smart people willing to help and to participate at their level. The internet scientific community will be our best source of inspiration and "How to" source.

So, let's build an astronomical observatory.....