observatory (7)

ATOS update

The ATOS project becomes a Turtle project (my totem sign).  Slowly advancing but with a lot of perseverance like a turtle.

About every 3 weeks I travel to the Provence in search of the right spot for the observatories and the overnight stays for the visitors.  Every time I leave with  an agenda with about 7 or 8 appointments for visiting different places.  The selections of the sites starts behind my computer: searching for the right ads, contacting the sellers, gathering all the needed information, checking if the location is situated in a dark area, etc.

Then leaving for a trip of about 3.000km.  Meeting a lot of interesting people and visiting the most beautiful places.  I learn a lot about the local life.
I still have a feel good in this region.  Every time I feel more at home in the Provence.  I don't feel as a tourist or occasional visitor but more as a prospector in search of the right valuable source.

As a result of the visits I start to build a local network of friends and other people who help us.  (Special thanks to Jean-Luc, Caroline and Erik).

A problem with the different sites is meanly the organisation of the domain: not enough free space for the observatories, bad condition of the buildings, an inappropriate price or not suited for visitors.
But the main problem is obtaining the building permit for the observatories.  Most of the dark location are part of a natural reserve and it's very difficult or almost impossible to obtain a building permit for the observatories. Certainly for observatories with domes.  So the observatories will be "simple" roll-off roof observatories.  This observatories look like garden sheds.  This kind of observatories can very well be integrated in the landscape.

For locating the dark areas in the Provence I use a detailed light pollution map.  On site the Sky Quality Meter is my most important instrument.  A sky of minimum 21.5 mag/arcsec² is a base.

Meanwhile our house in Belgium is for sale.  An important step in the project. 
The whole family will be moving to France.  This means also looking for schools for my kids.

The work at the classic telescopes continues.  The 12" Cassegrain is ready.
Continue to restore the focusers and other accessories.  It 's to cold in the warehouse to work at the large scopes.  Within a couple of weeks the works will start again in the warehouse.

To be continued

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Spring in November.  That's the actual weather in Belgium. 
Very strange weather.  Mosquitoes in November...

Result of this warm weather is a lot of dew and fogging.  Not the best observation conditions.
A good dew controller is needed.


The 160mm f:15 Gajdusek-Kozelsky refractor is installed in the observatory on the Fullerscopes MK IV equatorial mount.  Tracking and GOTO is now possible.  The Fullerscopes MK IV is a classic heavy duty mount retrofitted with stepper motors and an FS2 controller.

The Gajdusek-Kozelsky refractor is originally mounted on the original altaz mount.  

It's only a 16cm refractor but it's an impressive heavy telescope.Steel tube with balance weights inside the tube.

With a length of 240cm and a weight of +/-30kg it's the limit for the MK IV.  But the system works very smooth.

The focuser is a nice oversized 2" rack and pinion.  Very smooth.  Perfect for fine focusing at high magnifications.

The zenith prisms are an original 30mm made by Kozelsky and a 2" made by Zeiss.

Observation report

First views were very disappointing.  Blown up stars and a very bad star test. Almost impossible to focus the image.  Compared the images with the views from the 10cm Polarex.  Pinpoint stars and almost textbook star test.

After 45 minutes the Gajdusek-Kozelsky was cooled down and ready for the real work. Pinpoint stars!
First object: Aldebaran.  Red giant.  Perfect colour and deep black background.  Started with a 50mm 2" Rini eyepiece.  Pushed the image to 400x with an Abbe Zeiss 6mm ortho eyepiece.  Dimmer view but almost no colour aberration.  A little green border.  Up to 300X no trace of false colour.  Remarkable result.
Enough technique.  Time to enjoy deepsky objects.

The pier of the Fullerscopes is made for the 30cm Cassegrain and not for a long tube refractor.  Not the most comfortable observing position.  So limited to lower situated objects. The pier should at least be 75cm higher. 

First deep sky object were the Pleiades, open cluster in Taurus.  Pin point stars.  The field of view is to small to observe the complete cluster.  Bud large enough to see the three triangles.

Of course the Orion Nebula.  Low at the horizon just above the houses.  Nice fit in the 31mm Nagler.  Compared to the 4" Polarex much more detail.
A long tube refractor is excellent for faint stars.  Challenge to observe the E-star (mag 10.3) in the Trapezium cluster inside the Orion Nebula.  Could easily see the E-star.  Not possible with the Polarex.

The three open clusters in Auriga were the next objects.  Already higher in the sky.  Not so easy to observe.  Seated on the ground of the observatory.  Beautifll.

The back to Orion for double star hunting. Beta Orionis or Rigel was an impressive split.  Already visible with the 31mm Nagler but best with a Circle T 12.5mm Ortho

The Quadruple of Sigma Orionis was very interesting.  The seeing wasn't longer good.  Could only see the C-star with averted view.  Same with the C-star of Struve 761.

Last object was the open cluster M35 in Gimini.  I always compare M35 with an open hand full of shiny diamonds.   The companion cluster NGC2158 was visible, faint, only with averted vision.

Ended the observation session at 4am...

It was a great night.  Enjoyed a lot the 160mm Gajdusek-Kozelsky refractor.  Would it be with the 20cm (8") refractor?

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The 16cm f:15 Gajdusek Kozelsky refractor is installed on the Fullerscopes MK IV mount.  This heavy duty mount from the 1950's carries the refractor very well.

Now it will be possible to observe more objects because the Fullerscopes has the GOTO function.

The equatorial mount will make it possible to use higher enlargements.  It will also be possible to use the refractor for astrophotography

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Tale of an abandoned Czech Public Observatory

About a month ago a received an offer for buying the abandoned Public Observatory of Zdanice in the Czech Republic.
The observatory was build in the 1960’s, the communist era of Czechoslovakia.  It was abandoned after the revolution when the subventions dried up and the founder died.
The Observatory consists of two parts: the original Observatory and a later added hotel.
The hotel is in very bad condition.  Very expensive to restore and no added value to the observatory.  The observatory is worth restoring.
My initial idea was to keep the observatory and to take down the hotel.  Impossible to get a permit.
The only option was to buy only the inventory of the observatory.  
After we closed the deal I got the message that I only got one week to remove the inventory.  Panic but ok.  Found a team of six people and a transporter.
It’s a ones in a lifetime opportunity.  So adrenaline is very helpful ;-)
In the inventory are included a 20cm f:15 and 16cm f:15 equatorial mounted refractors in 4.5meter domes.  Another 16cm refractor and two 25cm Classical Cassegrains on altaz mounts.
A 20cm Schmidt camera and 10cm Coronagraph who were mounted on the  scopes.
Fantastic instruments build by Prof. Ing. Vilém GAJDUŠEK (optics) and Frantisek Kozelsky (mounts and hardware).
The scopes are very professionally made.
The mounts weight about 250kg.
Beside the optical instruments there was a library, movie theatre and a planetarium.  Unfortunately the planetarium projector was already moved to the Brno observatory.
It was a huge library of about 15.000 books in Czech, Russian, German and some in English.  
Only a small part was astronomy related.  The library also served the local community.
In the movie theatre I found about 60 astronomical films.
The observatory was very successful and was one of the largest public observatories in Eastern Europe.
The future of the building is very uncertain.  There are several claims on the ground and building.  

I found the observatory as a time capsule.  Very weird.
It was like they closed the doors fifteen years ago and we opened it again for the first time.  
All the rooms and offices were intact. 

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Klein onderhoud van de Fullerscopes montering

Een klassieke montering uit de jaren vijftig vraagt soms wat onderhoud. 

De Fullerscopes montering is een rechttoe rechtaan equatoriale montering zonder franjes.  Dit maakt het onderhoud simpel zonder veel kopzorgen. 

Eerst de pooluitlijning nagekeken.  Had enkele maanden geleden de montering van de zuil genomen en zonder uitlijning teruggeplaatst.  Was nog relatief correct maar kon beter.  Met de Losmandy poolzoeker is dit een fluitje van een cent.
Nu werkt de GOTO nog preciezer.  Een plezier.

De backlash moet af en toe bijgesteld worden.  Gewoon de moer van de worm wat aanspannen en afsluiten.

De Fullerscopes is weer een super goede visuele montering.  Het zal nooit een fotografische montering zijn maar is een perfecte montering voor de 30cm Cassegrain.

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