Thursday, August 25, 2016

Backyard Observatory Using SkyShed Plans


This project took approximately 3 months to complete from start to finish.  It can be done quicker but I had other commitments, i.e. a job and a family, so I worked on it part-time.  Although it is highly recommended that you have a helper building this, I built the SkyShed without help and, therefore, had to be creative while doing some parts.  The shed is 8' x 8' so I had to hybridize the plans from the 6' x 8' and 8' x 10' plans to construct it.

Note: I used deck screws of various sizes rather than nails to attach the all the boards.

STEP 1 - Identify the Site and Build the Pier (4/14-5/3)

This was done in a previous post: Building a Concrete Telescope Pier and Adapter.


STEP 2 - Construct the Floor (4/23-5/19)


After leveling the ground as best as possible, six 7' 10.5' pressure treated (PT) 4x4s were set on paving stones and cinder blocks until they were level. A seventh 4x4 was cut in half and added to the center for additional support. Roof shingles were used for further leveling.  Two 8' - 1 x 4s were attached to the ends of the 4 x 4s.  The SkyShed plans called for laying down 1x10s for the floor, however, I decided to put a sub-floor of half-inch PT plywood and then add PT 1 x 10s.  After a couple weeks the 1 x 10s started to warp so I removed them and and made my floor out of 0.75" plywood.  I added two coats of all-weather varnish for protection.

STEP 3 - Construct the Walls (6/13-6/21)



I the frames of the walls separately and then attached them to the floor with deck screws.  Since I was working alone I did not attach the walls to the frames yet.  I pretty much followed the plans from SkyShed except I purchased a 14" by 21" aluminum window from Amazon.


I had to be creative in order to hang the T-111 walls.  Fortunately I have numerous clamps to fill the job of a helper.

STEP 4 - Construct the Roll Off Rails (6/29)



I followed the updated plans from SkyShed for the roll off support for the most part.  I built my Roll Off Support Jacks out using 1/4" thick 4 x 4 steel plates from Lowe's (I cut them to size) and 5/8" diameter 8" galvanized bolts.  I had to chisel a hole in the paving stone to make room for the bolt.  The cost to make my own was a little less than $30.  Lastly, I had a problem with leveling the far beam as an uneven very large boulder or bedrock was exposed on the surface.  I had a bag of concrete leftover from the pier so I built a small berm using local rocks and poured the concrete into the berm to make a level platform.

STEP 5 - Construct the Roll Off Track and Support Runner (7/1)




Getting the garage door track was little time consuming as I had to check with several garage door companies before I found that would order it for me.  I ordered 4 - 9' sections and screwed them onto to roll off support beams.  I contacted a SkyShed installer for advice on what screws to use to hold the track, they recommend #10 or #12 panhead bolts 2.5" or 3" in length.  At first I used the #10 screws but when I was sure they would not hit the roller balls, I used the #12 screws.  Also, I ordered 20 nylon rollers and hinges from Amazon.

STEP 6 - Build the Roof Frame (7/12)



I followed the plans from SkyShed for the the gable and roof construction again using deck screws.  I build the gables on the ground and then attached them to the secured roll off slider.  For building the roof frame I used a 2 x 6 for the main cross beam and used a 2 x 4 support to level and hold in place.  I then added 2 x 4 angle braces for added security.  Next, two 2 x 4 trusses were added to each side of the structure.  Following SkyShed plans, I attached 2" by 4" hangers with #9 Simpson screws and then the 2 x 4 support beams into the hangers.

At this point, the roof is ready to be attached, however, I did not realize the metal roof had to be ordered and it would be at least thee weeks to be delivered (that's what I get for not checking).


The above photo shows the shed with the temporary roof consisting of 1/4 inch plywood with 30-gage paper.  The good news is, it did not leak!

STEP 7 - The Door (7/13)



The door was pretty much to the SkyShed plans only I used the T-111 rather than the 10" boards. Also, I used higher quality poplar 1 x 4 rather than pine.

STEP 8 - The Roof (8/10)




After removing my temporary roof, I installed the charcoal gray steel roof.  Again I followed SkyShed's plans for this but just a couple of notes for the non-roofers:

1) the screws are specially made for installing metal panels as they have a rubber washer attached to seal it from rain,
2) it is extremely hard to find a beam to screw into, you might want to turn the crossbeams onto their side so you have a larger target.

So what do you do if you do miss the beam?  I missed four times.  What I did to fix this was remove the screw, attach another board next to the beam I was aiming for, then put the screw back only now there is a board to catch it.  It may not be pretty but it works.

STEP 9 - Weather Proofing (8/12)


For weatherproofing I attached a 1 x 6 onto the backside of the roof about 1/4 inch above the wall.  On the roll-off side I attached a 1 x 10 onto the roof covering the opening.

STEP 10 - Electrical (8/17)




I purchased a 30 amp circuit breaker box and ran 14/2 Romex wire in 3/4 inch PVC conduit out to the shed.  The conduit was buried to a depth of six inches.  The shed has 2 outlets on the wall and one at the base of the pier. 

FINALLY - The Happy Frog Observatory is done!  (a.k.a. BMAS North Observatory after the local astronomy club I belong to)


 


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wild Duck Cluster and M26

The Wild Duck Cluster (M11) is an open cluster like Pleiades only ten times further at 5,500 light-years.  The cluster located in the constellation Scutum contains a few thousand stars as opposed to globular clusters which contain tens to hundreds of thousands of stars and are much older. The name comes from a 19th century English Naval Officer, Admiral Smyth, who thought the cluster resembled a flock of wild ducks. (source: Earthsky.org)

M26 is also an open cluster in the constellation Scutum is approximately 22 light-years across and 5,000 light-years distant.  The cluster contains 229 stars making much smaller than its neighbor, M11. (Source: AstroPixels.com, Wikipiedia)

These clusters represent 35 and 36 on my Messier Objects with an ED80 list, not that anybody is keeping track.

M11 - The Wild Duck Cluster
Closeup

Wide field

M11 - The Wild Duck Cluster
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date/Time: 08/22/16 10:30 pm
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i, Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Filter: None
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to and Orion Short Tube 80mm
Exposure: 34 x 90 sec (51 min)
ISO: 800
Temp: 32 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom

M26
Closeup

Wide field

M26
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date/Time: 08/22/16 11:30 pm
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i, Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Filter: None
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to and Orion Short Tube 80mm
Exposure: 21 x 90 sec (31 min)
ISO: 800
Temp: 32 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom

Wild Duck Cluster, M11, and M26

The Wild Duck Cluster (M11) is an open cluster like Pleiades only ten times further at 5,500 light-years.  The cluster located in the constellation Scutum contains a few thou sand stars as opposed to globular clusters which contain tens to hundreds of thousands of stars and are much older. The name comes from a 19th century English Naval Officer, Admiral Smyth, who thought the cluster resembled a flock of wild ducks. (source: Earthsky.org)

Closeup

Wide field

M11 - The Wild Duck Cluster
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date/Time: 08/22/16 10:30 pm
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i, Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Filter: None
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to and Orion Short Tube 80mm
Exposure: 34 x 90 sec (51 min)
ISO: 800
Temp: 32 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom

M26 is also an open cluster in the constellation Scutum is approximately 22 light-years across and 5,000 light-years distant.  The cluster contains 229 stars making much smaller than its neighbor, M11. (Source: AstroPixels.com, Wikipiedia)

Closeup

Wide field

M26
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date/Time: 08/22/16 11:30 pm
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i, Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Filter: None
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to and Orion Short Tube 80mm
Exposure: 21 x 90 sec (31 min)
ISO: 800
Temp: 32 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

M92

Managed to get a quick image of M92 during special viewing session with Boothe Memorial Astronomical Society (BMAS) on Sunday evening.  Messier 92 is a very bright (+6.4) globular cluster located in the Hercules constellation.  This image is only 7.5 minutes total exposure, I've taken other images of clusters with much longer exposures and they aren't as bright.  It has a diameter of 115 light-years and estimated to have 400,000 stars.  One more Messier object off my list (Messier Objects with an ED80 by Kurt Zeppetello), although I plan to get a longer exposure of this object. 

M92
Location: St John's Cemetary, Monroe, CT
Date/Time: 08/07/16 10:15 pm
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i, Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Filter: Astronomik CLS, 2" (48mm)
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to and Orion Short Tube 80mm
Exposure: 15 x 30 sec (7.5 min)
ISO: 1600
Temp: 32 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom

Friday, August 5, 2016

Waxing Crescent Moon andJupiter

Captured the waxing crescent Moon and Jupiter from the Marriott Courtyard hotel parking lot in Lebanon, NH while on vacation.


Moon and Jupiter
Courtyard-Marriott, Lebanon, NH
Date: 8-5-16, 9:01 pm
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i (600D)
Lens: Canon 18-55mm
Focal Length: 55mm
f/5.6
Exposure: 0.8 sec.
ISO: 400
Post Processing: Photoshop, Lightroom2

Other Pics


Friday, July 29, 2016

M17 - The Omega Nebula

The Omega Nebula (M17) is vast star forming region similar to the nearby Eagle Nebula (M16), imaged a few weeks ago, and the Orion Nebula (M42), imaged in January. It is named omega because parts of it resembles the Greek letter omega when looking at it through a telescope. Good eyes can spot this in a dark location on a very clear night.  It is about 5,000 light-years distance compared to 1,300 light-years for Orion.  Number 32 for the Messier Objects with an ED80.

Closeup

Wide-field

M17 - The Omega Nebula
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date/Time: 07/27/16 11:30 pm
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i, Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Filter: Astronomik CLS, 2" (48mm)
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to and Orion Short Tube 80mm
Exposure: 22 x 180 sec (66 min)
ISO: 800
Temp: 37 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom

Thursday, July 28, 2016

M14 and M9 (also M80)

M14 is a globular cluster (apparent magnitude +8.32) containing several hundred thousand stars and located approximately 30,000 light-years.  Meanwhile, M9, also a globular cluster (apparent magnitude +7.9) containing approximately 120,000 stars located approximately 25,000 light-years from Earth.  Both of these objects were taken when the moon was just past full but the weather was clear so I decided to go out and collect images.  The results were OK considering the moon was out but M14 was clearly better. These images also represent the 30th and 31st Messier Objects I captured with the ED80.

Addendum:
Also imaged M80 the same night.  This was a stretch from my home (The Happy Frog Observatory) as M80 was around 25 degrees altitude and and just above the tree line for a 10-minute interval.  I need to go somewhere else to get a better image, however, I managed to get 3-45 second sub-frames.

M14 IMAGES
Closeup

Crop

Widefield

M14
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date/Time: 07/20/16 11:00 pm
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i, Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Filter: none
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to and Orion Short Tube 80mm
Exposure: 45 x 45 sec (33.75 min)
ISO: 800
Temp: 34 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom

M9 IMAGES
Closeup

Crop
M9
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date/Time: 07/20/16 11:45 pm
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i, Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Filter: none
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to and Orion Short Tube 80mm
Exposure: 1 x 45 sec, 15 x 40 sec, 26 x 35 sec, 37 x 30 sec (44.4 min)
ISO: 800
Temp: 34 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom


M80 Image
M80
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date/Time: 07/20/16 10:45 pm
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i, Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
f/7.5
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Filter: none
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to and Orion Short Tube 80mm
Exposure: 3 x 45 sec (2.25 min)
ISO: 800
Temp: 34 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom