The Lost Valley Observatory
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Now to Put It Together

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What else can I say.  Within 1-2 weeks we will be digging our 4 foot deep holes with, in my case, a 20" Sonotube at the surface.  We will use the technique described on my MAS Observatory site (you can find this at: http://www.ourastrogallery.com/observatory/id11.html ) to set the plates in concrete, making sure they are level and pointing to true north.  After that we'll build the deck, erect the observatory and put in the first telescope at SRO.  You can check out our site or follow along on this site to see what that entails.  There will be T1 internet, servers, cloud and seeing monitors with automated roof control, Baytechs in each observatory and a lot of infrastructure to ensure it will all work efficiently. 
 
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The Key is getting Out Before the Cement is Poured

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Unlike my last observatory, these sonotubes are only about 4.5 feet deep, as there is essentially no frost line at 4600 feet in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Contrast this to the 3 foot frostline at 300 feet in Maine, the site of my last observatory.  Just for kicks, the highs at the site of my old observatory was 35 deg F today, comared to 75 deg F at my home (elevation of 400 feet in the low lying foothills) and 65 deg F at the observatory site at 4600 feet (only 40  minutes from my house).  The lack of extreme weather conditions, coupled with the laminar air flow should make a significant difference in image quality.  The seeing will improve from 3 arc-secs (my site in Maine) to about 1.5 arc-secs at Sierra Remote Observatories, where the Lost Valley Observatory will be located. 
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The Process !!!

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The key is to be sure the mount is pointed north and is level.  This is not always as easy as it may seem.  In our location we were able to confirm the compas, taking the difference between true and magnetic north into account, was accurate if held a few feet from the sonotube. Essentially, as the cement dries it will contort and move the J-hooks of the mount, buried in the cemnet, forcing us to make constant adjustments.  In the end we succeeded. 
 
 
 
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Site Marked

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The site for the Lost Valley Observatory has been marked and the sonotube hole will be dug soon.  The sonotubes will be poured in a few weeks and the deck put up over shortly therafter.  Once this is done the roll-off roof observatory, in the crates in the background of the photo, will be put together (10x10 foot Pier Tech TeleStation II). Also note that the road has been placed (part of it is visible on the right).  Not visible is the fact that all the internet (T1), catagory 6  and electrical lines have been placed underground.  We are making good progress. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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The Question is: "Did he get out?"

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There's no getting around it, pouring sonotubes is a messy business.  Keep in mid we had to pour 8 structures with a total of 10 sonotubes, and had to have every one perfectly balanced and "dead on" north by the time the cement solidified.  This required us to run from site to site making dozens of small adjustments.  It was, to say the least, a long day.....
 
 
 
 
 
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As can be seen the first 8 buildings, and the Lost Valley Observaoty (the nbeige building), are up (more or less).  I will add a great deal of text to these images in the next few days.  Needles to say I am thrilled at the workmanship and quality of Vito's "Pier Tech" Telestation II.  More on that soon !!
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Sonotubes and Foundations

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As can bee seen, the foundations and sonotubes are ready for pouring.  It will take 3 full trucks to pour the cement.  As you'll see, it's quite a job to get this many (10 in all) telescope mounts leveled and pointing north. Notice the giant (black circle around it) and very heavy (150 lbs) mount for Mel's scope (one of the 3 founding partners, along with Greg and myself).  I can't resist the chance point out that it took three of use to get it in the cement and we had to literally stand on it to force it into the cement.  Mel doesn't buy scopes like most of us, he builds them from the ground up, optics, electronics, programming and all.  As proof of the brilliance of his mind, note that he was in New York the day we poured the sonotubes !!!  We are all waiting anxiously to see his finished product, a corrected Newtonian with an 18" mirror.
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Taking a Break

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Greg Morgan (on the left) and I taking a break during the pouring of Fresno State Universities pier.  This monster will hold a 16" RC on a fork mount.  It's use will be research oriented and we spent a lot aof extra time making sure the mount was exactly level and pointing north. An brilliant physicist, Dr. Fred Ringwald, will be running this scope.  You can check out some of his work at http://zimmer.csufresno.edu/~fringwal/ ).  
 
 
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