Greeting and welcome to the Redding Observatory web page.

As this concept matures I have benefitted from several online groups. Most notable has been the ccd-newastro which can be found at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ccd-newastro/.

To view current observation conditions, click here.

Click here for the current design goals for the observatory.

The Redding Observatory started as a home observatory project and has been exspanded to include the possibility of being the official observatory for OnLine Training Institute and Redding College.

The design goals for the home observatory include:

  1. Visual observing to the horizon without leaving home.
  2. Equitorial mount, with 360 degree rotation and 90 to 180 degree vertical transit.
  3. Room for two scopes.
  4. Room for four or more observers.
  5. Power for equipment.
  6. Possibility of remote control at some point in the future.
  7. Hurricane proof - complies with Dade County, Florida standards.
  8. Protection for instruments, 365 days of the year in all weather.

This is the initial concept drawing for installing a home astronomy dome on our retirement home being built in Deland, Florida.

 

More will follow as the plans mature.

The image above is an early concept drawing for the observatory above the garage. The observatory, a ten foot circular observation room, will be attached to the 40 foot dome, and isolated from the second floor office space, and telescope pier. This concept uses the dome to provide a stable rigid observation point, and a pier/pedestalisolated from the observatory floor to the concrete slab.


See this drawing from Ash Domes:

It includes an isolation joint concept. Similar to that suggested by Terry Crook, of the Starry Night Yahoo group.

My observatory dome conception sits on top of the 40 foot monolithic dome. It is fairly close to scale. The revised plan is to set the observatory above the garage. That will allow me to avoid the stovepipe effect of having a living home below me with heat, AC, and a front door opening and closing - all outside my control. The above the garage concept provides greater control over access.

The observatory dome will arrive pre-manufactured. It will have a mounting ring, which attaches to the 40 foot dome, and provides the footing for the astronomy dome. I have settled on the 10.5 foot Ash-Dome.

The primary consideration for the mounting of the observatory dome is insuring that the structure is able to withstand hurricane force winds.

I had a desire to place a row of windows below the astrodome itself, to maintain the cupola effect, to let in light, and provide a view, but am concerned that would weaken the structure from a wind shear point of view significantly. I would have used the Miami/Dade standard windows - which are rated at direct impact up to 220 MPH.

The other issue is overall height. We stopped to visit with a family building a monolithic dome home near Pensacola that included a cupola. They opted not to include the cupola because of height restrictions. In Deland I can go no higher than 35 feet. The main dome is 28 feet. The attached 40 foot domes stand 20 feet high. The astronomy dome is nearly six feet high, which gives me four feet to work with.

The dome provides a convenient observation site, with stable air, and a stable environment for the telescope. Any air or temperature change can destroy an excellent opportunity to observe, and take photographs. The concept has matured to place the observatory above the garage, where live heat current from active living space should be minimal.

As important as any other factor, is the mounting pedestal for the telescope. In wood frame homes they literally place the pedestal first - in bedrock - and extend it up to the mounting point for the telescope. It is normally something like a well casing pipe filled with concrete. In the dome home, I am hoping the dome itself is rigid enough to address the stable, vibration free nature that the telescope mounting point demands. I have abandoned that idea and now plan to have a pier 30" X 30" X 14'.

Notice, please, in my conception, I have an observation "cage." The cage is designed to isolate the pier, mounting pedestal and mounting point for the telescope. The floor of the gage is tied directly to the roof of the dome, provided an isolated observation floor, which may be stable enough to hold. I believe the observation floor is the most likely source of vibration to the telescope. Even when empty, during hour long exposures, just opening a downstairs door to the outside might cause the observation floor to flex disturbing the telescope. This is known as the membrane effect, where the upper floor flexes as a result of changing air pressure, and the resulting difference in air pressure above and below the upper floor. Thus, the observation cage provides a more stable solution than simply a third floor.

Here is the initial evelation drawing of the front elevation of the home with the observatory on top.

The concept has matured and now the concept is for the observatory to sit above the garage.


The observatory will be on top of a monolithic dome that functions as a garage. I will have an ASH-DOME on top of the monolithic dome. The question is one of how high to make the pier. The dome is 20 feet high. The ASH-DOME is 5 feet high. The scope will sit with in the dome to allow me to view to the horizon.

A few questions present themselves. How far below the dome ring should the observatory floor be? Too far and I have to be on a tool or step to view. To close and I have to crouch to look at the zenith.

I am going to have the observatory floor suspended from the dome. I will have the pier embedded in an isolated footing in the center of the garage floor. The pier will be concrete, 30'' X 30" and will be tall enough to present 24" above the observation floor. On top of that I will have a pedestal and the mount. The height of the pier is tied to the distance the observation floor extends below the dome ring The dome ring will be about 18.5 feet above the garage floor. Currently I am thinking the dome ring should be about seven feet above the observation floor. However, I would be pleased to see other comments on the subject.

I am using the pedestal to give me the flexibility to have different mount and telescope configurations on top of the pier.

The following table lists home and private observatories which have produced impressive CCD images. Following the advice of Bismark, I choose not to be a fool, but rather to learn from the mistakes of others. Or in other words to benefit from the work and discovery they have shared via the Internet. The table names the observor, or observatory, its design, mount, and complement of scopes, cameras and imaging systems. Where known, I also provide the software used to process the images. Finally, I list a link to one image that is very impressive - for various reasons.

Most impressive home and private observatories
Observatory
Image
Type Mount Scopes Cameras Guiding Software  
Hiddent Valley
NCG6960
10 foot Ground Dome with separate control building            
Rogue River
M31
  CGE mount Televue NP101 with .82 reducer SXV-M25C and IDAS filter   Processed in ImagesPlus, Registar, PSCS2 and
Noel Carboni's AstroTools.
18 hr exposure
Andy Homeyer
M31
Roll-off two pier Two, north and south pier is a 10 inch diameter steel tube welded to a 18 inch diameter by one inch thick steel plate, that is in turn bolted to a corresponding plate that is attached and anchored into the concrete foundation block. Home designed mount 30 mm Astro Physics F8, a 180 mm Astro Physics F9 and a 90 mm F10 John Mellish refractor     Film 90 minute two stack
Black River Observatory
M31
Roll-off Steel pier bolted to footing, with          
Igloo Observatory
Four images
Ground ProDome
AP 1200GTO Mount
NP-101 and E160 astrograph
LX-90 @ f/3.9, 788 mm, MX716 and MX7C cameras
ImagesPlus

Terry