Hidden Bend Retreat, Romney West Virginia

Romney, WV

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hidden Bend Observatory Build

Started work on the astronomy observatory yesterday morning before it got too hot. Going to call it the Hidden Bend Observatory. The last picture shows a view from the site down the driveway which curves to the left. Drive is nearly a half mile long and the bend really adds to the privacy although not a lot a traffic up a gravel road that doesn't go anywhere except to our house.

Dug a hole for the concrete footing that will hold the pier and mount for the telescope. Hole is about 3'x3'x32". Intention is to fill the hole with concrete and then have a base where the pier will attach about 2' above the ground. Once this is complete, I'll build a deck around the pier at that level to actually hold the observatory structure.

I'm using an 8' round metal building with a poly dome from a company called Exploradome. Here's a picture of the dome, it comes with the shutter doors assembled and is light enough that two people can put it on top of the metal walls. Deck will be about 10'x10'. For this year, just want to get the dome and scope in place and see how it works during the prime viewing seasons through fall and winter- will add a small shed next to the dome later if the location works out to hold a computer and other equipment for imaging and video.

Here are a few pictures of the site, first one shows the hole (not too impressive, lol) which took over an hour to dig with a 12" backhoe on my tractor. Ground here is shale and really hard to get through it. I figure as long as I'm on stable rock, I'll be okay. The hole/base of the pier needs to be this large to give it enough mass so it doesn't move or vibrate, especially important if you're wanting to do any photography or imaging. I'll show a picture of the pier that I had made by the local metal fabricators in another post.

The next pictures show the views looking east towards the house, then south, then west. Didn't include the north view as much of the lower sky in that direction will be partially blocked by trees. Most of the trees you see will lose their leaves so it will open up a bit. Last shot is the one mentioned above looking back to the road. You can also see a shot of the dome, ready to be mounted at some point later.

Next steps are to get the forms set for the pier base, I bought a small concrete mixer to do the job, will take about 40 bags or so of concrete to fill the base so will be a long day. Then I'll start working on the footers for the deck itself. Check back later for more updates.

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