If you could indulge my ravings for just a moment, I'd like to share a little story about the creation/evolution of Stone Haven Observatory.
At the time I moved to the "boonies", I had just been soundly trounced by a divorce and several other unfortunate attempts at relationships. I had fully intended to just become a hermit, and this location promised to fulfill that end. One night, in a drunken stupor, as I sat on the roof of my house, I noticed how many stars I could see, along with the river of the Milky Way passing overhead. This was a sight I had not seen since I was a boy, spending the summers in Canada. I had always had an interest in astronomy, just no idea on how to actually do it.
So, I looked up the local astronomy shop called, strangely, "The Astronomy Shoppe", wandered in one day with my credit card and asked them what I should buy. They were very nice and I walked out with a brand new Celestron Celestar 8" SCT. I was not in the least prepared for what I would see through it. I followed the instructions for setup/finder collimation, aimed it at a telephone pole 1/2 mile away, and saw wood grain and a knot hole the size of my fist! My first thought was something like, "Whoa! This is a SERIOUS instrument! Cool!" I spent the better part of the next 2 years trying and mostly failing to figure out how to set up the thing, aim it and find what I was after. Frustration set in.
Until a friend of mine suggested we reserve a spot for public viewing at Kitt Peak. It seems they had just begun a program where for $35 you could spend a few hours with an experienced telescope operator and a 16" Meade LX200. That operators name was Adam Block. (He's since left KPNO.) He was wonderful! Very knowledgable, very helpful, very friendly. We saw a whole bunch of things that night, but the biggest thing for me was an understanding of what to EXPECT to see at the eyepiece. That, more than anything, inspired me to settle down and try harder. The next night, I found M51 and M27. Spectacular!
Once I started getting better at location and identification, I began to notice my neighbors street light more. (It's too bad I installed it for her myself, too, before I got the scope, otherwise, I'd have chosen a different fixture.) I decided to put up a couple walls to block the surrounding lights, such as they are. I enlisted my daughter to help construct a simple enclosure. The rest is history. And described below.
Thanks for your patience, and I hope you can find some inspiration as I did. Now, on to Stone Haven Observatory.
This is the view of Stone Haven Observatory. On the left is about how it looks from the street and on the right is a view from the roof of my house.
There are 3 observatory buildings. The original, brown building was a roll-off roof design described previously. There are 2 domed buildings. The large one is a 12' diameter dome for general astronomy and has has several telescopes installed. The smaller one is a 6' dome on an 8' square building that is the Bob Goff Solar Observatory.
The rolloff roof
was completed on January 14,1999. For many years, it was the mainstay of Stone Haven Observatory.
When the 12' dome became operational, all equipment was moved into it. Two days after this, a major storm hit, generating a microburst that blew the roof off! It landed upside down about 30' north of the walls. At the time, there was a scale model of the solar system laid out in the yard. Thirty feet to the north of the walls coincided with the orbit of Jupiter, and in fact the roof landed on the stake representing this. So, the storm was so strong, it blew the roof to Jupiter!
Click here for older closeup and interior views.
The 12' dome, (saga described here), is currently used for storage and files. The mount for the 5" refractor went belly up, so it's out of commission. I may reinstall the 10" F/7 Treckerscope, just as soon as I can fix the drive and tube rotation sy$tem$.
The Bob Goff Solar Observatory is well under construction. (I have yet to write a separate page on it, but hope to soon.) It is named after a dear, departed friend that taught me just about everything I know about observing the Sun. It will house coelostat system to reflect sunlight to various solar instruments. These will include white light telescopes, a coronagraph and a spectrohelioscope, currently in the design phase. The coelostat is installed, with the heliostat portion polar aligned and operational. The dome mechanisms are electric and also operational. Watch for B.G.S.O. page updates.
The Bob Goff Solar Observatory
Pier Construction Details
Some photos of the Pier and Wedge
CAD drawing of the pier
Page URL: http://www.stonehavenobservatory.com/Observatory.html