The Observatory - "Carbon Neutral" Astronomy

The design is a variation on the roll-off roof concept, with the roof split in two allowing each half to be moved independently, either by hand, or remotely by a modified garage door opener.

The entire operation is powered by a 120w solar panel which charges two large 200 AmpHr deep cycle batteries via a solar controller. An inverter provides 240v AC from the 12v DC battery source, although much of the equipment runs directly from the battery12v supply. In short, I image the stars using recycled energy collected from our own nearby star.

A wall mounted internet camera provides live video streaming of the observatory allowing remote monitoring of the setup.

Click
here or on the image right for a page detailing the observatory construction.

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Interfacing

The computerised mount, CCD cameras, lighting, and roof positioning are controlled by a small Netbook (HP 1001TU) equipped with a "Velleman K8055" USB interface board, which itself is controlled using the "Licht 24 Pro" software package . A wireless network provides access to the netbook from inside the house via VNC, which in turn is accessible remotely via the internet from anywhere in the world.

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Equipment

Losmandy G11 Equatorial Mount with a Gemini Computerised GoTo System (Level 4)

6 inch
Astro-Physics StarFire Apochromatic Refractor (f/8.5 circa 1990 model)

10 inch
Meade SCT Telescope (f/10, with f/6.3 focal reducer). This was an LX200 tube assembly that I removed from the forks to allow mounting on the G11

Televue 76mm Apochromatic refractor – can be either piggy-back mounted on the G11 (used as a guide scope) or used on independently on a Takahashi Teegul Sky-Patrol mount.

Santa Barbara Instrument Group ST-2000XM dedicated Astronomical CCD camera

Santa Barbara Instrument Group ST-402ME Astronomical Guiding CCD camera

Dew Heater system designed by Christchurch company
43°S Astro

Philips Toucam Pro 740 Webcam for planetary imaging

HP 1001TU Netbook running Licht 24 Pro, Starry Night Pro and Gemini Control Panel. CCDSoft is used for deep sky imaging.

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