The Lost Valley Observatory
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This section describes the building of the Lost Valley Observatory, as a part of Sierra Remote Observatories (www.sierra-remote.com).  Initially a prefabricated observatory was built, but in 2012 it was replaced with a custom four season designed 10x12 foot building, identical to the others built at Sierra Remote Observatories (SRO),  .

   
 

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RCOS-16

   
   
   
   

This site contains information about the planning and construction of the Lost Valley Observatory.  This observatory imaged first light on June 3, 2007.  It is located as part of Sierra remote Observatories, or SRO, ( http://www.sierra-remote.com ).  It is  located at 4600 feet in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, between Yosemite and Kings Canyon.  The site is known for it's high percentage of photometric nights, minimal wind,  and unusually good seeing conditions (averaging from 1-2 arc-seconds with sub-arcsecond seeing occuring frequently).  The concepts for this observatory originated from my work at the MAS Observatory , my first fully robotic observatory (built in Greene, Maine).  The general plan was to put a temporary structure up and later replace it with a permanent custom built observatory.  The first stage involved freestanding automated 10' x 10' Pier-Tech Telestation II (roll off roof observatory).  The Peir-Tech observatory is nicely engineered and has worked flawlessly under most conditions except heavy winter conditions.  It is rated by Pier tech as a three season observatory, and so this problem was expected and not the fault of Pier-Tech.  Under heavy snow load we had problems with roof jamming and in one case partial collapse due to snow loading (occured with about 1 foot of snow on the roof noted).  The design was originally constructed as a reomote 'three season' platform, or for snowy winters if the owner was nearby and could sweep snow off the roof.  Evidently a new peeking roof design is being implimented to avoid this problem in the future, as the current roof has a flat design and will invert/collapse with significant snow loads (as will be shown).  In 2011 the Pier-tech was replaced with a custom built and 4 season rated 10x12 foot observatory.  The telescope is my RCOS-16" Ritchey-Chretien (ion milled), originally with a Takahashi 106 FSQ piggy backed for wide field imaging (this was removed in July of 2009, as all my work is now narrow field deep sky imaging).  The cameras being used is an STL-6303 with Astrodon 3nm filters (L, R, G, B, Ha, NII, OIII, SII).  An AO-L (SBIG's adaptive optics for the STL) is utilized, with an Astrodon off-MAOG axis guider.  Off axis guiding uses the small SBIG 237 chip (required with the AOL), and therefore a custom FLR has been added, increasing the FOV to that of a 402 XME (which can not be used with the SBIG AOL) 
    The most important concept in building this observatory is the site itself.  The observatory is located at SRO, an observatory complex at 4600 feet, in an area known for excellent seeing conditions (1 arc-sec summer and 1.2 arc-sec winter seeing), in order to optimize the abilities of the long FL RCOS-16.  The site is high enough for optimal seeing but also easily accessable, being only 45 minutes from Fresno, CA.  At 4600 feet the snow loads are minimal, making year round access possible. 

 

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