Introduction

 

I have named my observatory, The Pictor Observatory. Pictor is one of the modern /construction/constellations in the Southern Hemisphere named by Abbe Nicholas Louis de Lacaille. He is credited for creating and naming 15 of the 88 internationally accepted /construction/constellations during his stay at the observatory at the Cape of Good Hope between 1750 and 1754. The constellation was originally called Equuleus Pictoris, the Painter's Easel. Equuleus, which means "small horse", referred to the wooden sawhorse-like stand which formed the common type of easel in Lacaille's time. The name was later shortened to Pictor. Although the /construction/constellation does not contain any bright stars or many objects of interest in visible light, it does contain the celestial object known as Pictor A, a spectacular source in radio and X-ray wavelengths1

The reasoning behind the name is that my primary interest and reason for building the observatory is to aid in my pursuit of CCD imaging. Since I am producing pictures, I consider the night sky and the equipment in the dome all part of my "easel."

 

History Behind The Pictor Observatory

 

The first idea for what eventually became the Pictor Observatory, was the idea that I would simply sink a pier into the backyard. That way, I would not have to set up the mount every time I came out to image or observe. The idea though quickly grew, as the imaging equipment list grew, that something a little more permanent would be beneficial. like many other amateur astronomers, I had long dreamed of an observatory of my own. A roll-off was quickly ruled out, since the optimal location for building was right on the property line and there would be no room for the roof to roll to. That left the dome, and lets face it, who doesn't love a dome! A search of the net yielded Mike Cook's website, where he had complete plans for a DIY 8' dome. Mike is located only a few hours drive away, so I arranged to go see his setup and was quite impressed. Over the course of a winter, my father, a retired draftsman, took Mike's plans and brought them into a CAD program and scaled the observatory up to a 10' dome.

Ground was broken on March 11, 2002 with the clearing of the site, which was occupied with a broken down aluminum storage shed. The following list gives a photographic history of the observatory's construction. Things were slowed down by problems that were encountered with the dome itself. The two major problems were: (1.) The dome itself was far heavier than expected and was extremely difficult to get turning. (2.) The dome's shutter was redesigned several times in an attempt to strengthen it and waterproof it, without success. As a result, the decision was made in the spring of 2004 to replace the DIY dome with a Home Dome from Technical Innovations. Once the dome was delivered, it took three days to have a waterproof dome.