Not a surprise at all, but we now have a rotating, opening and closing dome! Next steps are to putty in the weather seal along edges, and it will be complete. The interior of the building is getting walls and paint soon. Lighting and network cabling come next followed by the installation of the telescope by end of January! Stay tuned!
A wide angle look at the dome interior with the lower shutter open.
Exterior view with the lower shutter open and the dome rotated to point north.
All three of the observatory’s domes visible for comparison.
Below: Two short movies of the dome shutter being opened. This is a two-part process with the top shutter opened first followed by the lower shutter which tilts out. The top shutter’s lower edge overlaps the bottom shutter thus preventing weather from getting inside.
Progress has been swift on the construction of the new building. Roofers have installed the waterproof roof layer and sealed around the dome’s base structure (framing). The dome has been built in place, and the shutter also installed. Interior work now progresses with the installation of the walls, trim, lights and such. Remember that for any of the images below, just click on them for a larger view.
Prior to pouring the concrete walkway we were expecting both rain then snow and freezing temperatures. Heating pads were placed to prevent frost on the ground before pouring the cement.
One wall has siding in this image, and the dome opening has been covered to protect the interior from rainfall.
All four exterior walls now have been sided, ventilation louvers have been installed, and the roofers are working on the rubberized layer on top the structure and around the dome, base frame.
Inside the control room, the base bearings of the dome have been unpacked for inspection and comprehension! So many parts are in this package, that it is a little mystifying.
The view of the telescope room through the framed wall of the control room. The window casement has been installed along with initial conduit for electrical. network and telescope control lines.
The dome is almost complete in this image taken at 6:30am with the sun rising. The dome’s motion is smooth and has that familiar rumble to it as it rotates in azimuth on its well-aligned and level bearings.
A wide-field image of the dome interior. Note that edges are a little warped in this image due to the camera’s odd stitching of the frames. You can see the top of the pier and the orange power line system for dome operations which make the system effectively wireless. No wires will be dangling down from above to control the dome’s motion.
Roof is complete. Dome is complete. Door has been installed.
One of the best meteor showers of the year is rapidly approaching. Peaking on the night of December 13/14, the Geminids put on a good show with peaks averaging at 120 meteors per hour. Now, with the moon being just past full that night, many of the fainter meteors will be drowned out by moonlight. Don’t be discouraged, though: we still expect to see some 30 meteors per hour. The best time to watch? After midnight, usually around 2:00am is best, but you can start seeing them after 10pm easily enough. Gemini will be high in the sky, and the night time side of Earth will be heading into the meteor stream.
The source of these meteors is from asteroid 3200 Phaethon, named after the son of Helios… Phaeton swings very close to the Sun in its orbit, being one of the Apollo asteroid members. Does it pose a threat to Earth? Not for the next 400 years or so, which is as far as our high-level orbital analysis shows. The asteroid has a 30 year orbit… so maybe in the distant future we might have to worry about this one.
Looking east at about 9pm local time, the constellations Orion and Gemini will be well above the horizon. Alas, the moon will also be in Gemini and just past full phase. Rather than looking at the moon-lit Gemini, look straight up and all around in the sky for the Geminid meteors.