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Telescope Pier Installation and First Use

Posted: 24 April 2016

The telescope pier mounting plate was installed in the observatory on Thursday, 21 April 2016. While I was doing some work at the observatory I moved the dome bumpers on the PZT to allow the dome to be moved an additional 2", providing even more access to the Zenith area. I have posted an update to my PZT report.

Thursday night was cloudy. But the telescope was on the floor in the observatory so would not have opened the observatory anyway. Friday had mostly thin clouds. I did start the actual installation of the pier:


But I did not finish on Friday. Pier installation was completed on Saturday, 23 April:


The POD sure is roomier now! I will post a full report on the pier soon.

As I was completing the installation strong winds began blowing, which continued as sunset approached. Decided to open the observatory anyway for first use of the new pier.

Open: Saturday, 23 April 2016, 1834 MST
Temperature: 85°F
Session: 952
Conditions: Mostly clear, hazy, windy

This session was primarily to do some initial setups of the 12" LX600 now that it was mounted on the pier. Since the telescope had been moved during the pier installation I would need to redo the polar alignment. I would also be able to evaluate using the pier.

I used the Wireless AutoStar II handcontroller on this session, placing it on the pier eyepiece tray when not in use.

1902 MST: sunset. The sky was now partly cloudy, but the wind was less strong. I noticed an interesting pattern in some dust in a POD bay:


The antenna is from the shortwave radio receiver used for WWV time signals. The dust may have come from the concrete pad drilling during pier mounting.

1910 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF. Did a GOTO Sirius for initial alignments. Centered the star in the finderscope. I then began slewing the 12" telescope until I got Sirius centered in the 2" 24mm UWA eyepiece (102X). Since the finderscope had been removed from the main telescope during the pier installation process, it needed to be realigned. Next, I SYNCed the AutoStar on Sirius for the initial alignment.

Did a GOTO Jupiter; it was placed at the edge of the 102X eyepiece field-of-view (FOV). Seeing was lousy due to the clouds but the four Galilean Moons were visible.

1950 MST: the sky seemed to be clearing. 1956 MST: began setting up for the AutoStar One Star Polar Alignment to get the wedge initially polar aligned. Adjusted the wedge Latitude and Azimuth positions. Alignment successful. Did a GOTO Jupiter, which was placed at the edge of the eyepiece FOV. Then did a GOTO NGC2392 (Eskimo Nebula) and it was placed near the center of the FOV. 2032 MST: done with the initial polar alignment. I had hoped to do the StarLock aided polar drift alignment this night but due to the clouds and the brightening sky from the rising waning gibbous Moon I deferred this to the next session.

I decided to end this session as it had been a very busy day getting the telescope installed on the pier.

I am happy with the new pier. I no longer have to step over tripod legs, although I found myself occasionally stepping over the legs even though they weren't there. Habit. It is great to have all three observatory upgrades finally done.

Close: Saturday, 23 April 2016, 2058 MST
Temperature: 65°F
Session Length: 2h 24m
Conditions: Mostly clear, calm

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