The new 0.7m telescope dome is up and running at Phillips Exeter Academy. There is still some serious testing to do in order to prove out the various bits and pieces that all have to integrate together: mount control, focus control, heaters, fans, pointing models, dome control, linking dome to the telescope, imager and filter wheel control. We’ve had a couple of clear nights, and thus far everything seems to be working. Below are two 360 degree tours of the building. One is a view from the control room. The other is from the dome. Be sure to use your mouse to look around the images by clicking and dragging. You can also zoom in and out. Enjoy!
Every observatory needs basic maintenance, and those here at PEA are no different. I usually cringe at the thought, but cleaning is a part of the requirement… not that I dislike cleaning. I actually really find it meditative, and a clean observatory dome makes me smile. The cringe-feeling comes from the prospect of kicking up a ton of dust, pollen, cob webs, and such… all of which will have to come to rest some place: Hopefully not on any optics! EEEK! Scheduling the cleaning is a whole other game to play, as well. School ends in early June. A few weeks later, the summer school program begins, and then runs for 5 more weeks. Grass is growing and getting cut throughout June and summer, so, why clean if it’s going to get even more dusty and grassy and pollen-dusty…? So… I wait until the end of summer, when there is a cool, dry, sunny day, like today!
Step – one – cover the optics. Then cover the telescope tubes and mounts with trash bags. Open the dome and aperture.
Two – Vacuum the whole place from top to bottom. We have open studs, so there are a lot of nooks and crannies to work through.
Three – Damp wipe of surfaces, and then a scrub of the floor.
Four – wipe down the ladder and other step-stool devices used by observers throughout the year.
Five – wait for everything to be dry. A light breeze and sunny, dry weather help here. Today was a perfect day.
The result? A clean observatory with a bunch of displaced spiders and no more wasp nests. Webs are gone. Pollen and dust are gone. Happiness!