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The Board of Governors, at the July 31, 2005 meeting, approved the purchase of a 14-inch Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain "GoTo" Telescope (LX-200, f/10) for $ 4,254.13 in two payments of $ 2,129.13 now and $ 2,125 in FY 2006. The scope was offered for sale by an individual who decided it was too large to handle. The scope was set up once by the owner for observing. Many board members met at Pulpit Rock the evening of July 26th to set up, inspect, and observe through the scope so that a decision could be made at the meeting. The scope is like-new and the optics appear excellent. The Society also recently acquired by donation an 8-year old 12-inch Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope. A decision about where these scopes will be installed was not made, as there is still considerable debate on this subject.

The FY 2005 budget was amended to purchase the 14-inch scope by establishing a project fund with $ 2,129.13. The monies came from $ 1,393.75 in shifted line item expenses and an additional $ 735.38 in new spending for the year.

Registered: 06/02/09
Posts: 20
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Our new 14” Mead LX-200 Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope needs a home. The consensus agreement is that this telescope will be placed at Pulpit Rock but we need to decide where it's permanent home will be. Some of the suggestions that I've heard include;

1.Retire the 17” Dobsonian and reconfigure the “shed” to accommodate this telescope as a “roll-out”.
2.Expand the Spacek Observatory from a single to double capacity, allowing the placement of this telescope in the new section.
3.Install into the front (roll-off) portion of the radio telescope trailer.
4.Build the new observatory that we're allowed under the easement and place this telescope there. Install into the front (roll-off) portion of the radio telescope trailer until construction has been completed.
5.Install into the Schlegel-McHugh Observatory, replacing the 20" Cassegrain telescope that is already in progress there.

My opinion:
This telescope is far to sensitive and expensive an instrument to even consider option 1 and option 5 is a work in progress, to even consider abandoning our 20” GOTO instrument in favor of a 14” instrument seems just silly to me!

I don't believe that the easement will allow for option 2 but we may be able to get permission from the National Park Service to pursue this option.

Options 3 and 4 have the use of the front section of the trailer in common, in option 3 it is the permanent location and in option 4 it is used temporarily. I believe that we should proceed along this path. If the desire and manpower are available in the future and we decide to proceed with option 4 then we can do so, if not we have a fully operational GOTO instrument and have not had to decommission an existing telescope to obtain it.

The board will be discussing this at the next meeting so please let us know what you think!

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You don't really have the data to assess option 5. If the 20" is 5 years away from being an operational GOTO scope, or even longer, then why have that dome sitting there unused? What is the REALISTIC estimate for when the 20" scope is in place and working as a GOTO. Todays light sensitive CCD cameras make aperature a bit less important, and a VERY accurate tracking scope of 14" is better than a 20" scope that does not exist, or tracks poorly.

By: Likes:

I think that you missed my point regarding option 5 (Install into the Schlegel-McHugh Observatory, replacing the 20" Cassegrain telescope).

First, there is work being performed on the project. Frankly if those who complain about the pace of progress on the project actually volunteered to spend time working on it then it would progress faster! I don't believe that the 5 year time frame you reference is fair, how did you come up with that estimate? As for how well it will track when complete... well that really depends on the equipment used and the talents of those working on the system. I don't think an implication that it will track poorly is fair to those working on the project. I believe that when it's complete LVAAS will have another first class telescope for members use, and another feather in our cap!

Second, has anyone considered the amount of effort that would be required to remove the current telescope and place the new 14" in it's place? I doubt that they have because this would require a considerable effort. Who is it that is willing to do the work?

Third, are we prepared to abandon the 20"? If it is removed what will be done with it? And lets not forget the years of effort that individual members have spent working on this project. Do we tell them "thanks but no thanks" your efforts don't really mean anything to us anymore?

You asked for an REALISTIC estimate; I can't really give an accurate estimate for when it will be completed, perhaps Scott can.
I can tell you that our investment is either in time and sweat or it is financial, the more we are prepared to spend the more quickly we'll have a completed telescope.

Bottom line is that I believe that it would be a huge mistake to target the Schlegel-McHugh Observatory. We have a viable project there and we do not NEED to use that facility. We have other options!

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My estimate was not an estimate. I threw it out as a straw model. If the 20" project is 5 years away, what would you decide? Then, you have to convince yourself it's not 5 years away. Do you think in 1989 the 40" project would have figured it would be 16-17 years till they were done? There may be sweat in the 20", but if it is never going to be done, it's just that, sweat, and about as useful as sweat for observing the heavens.

Lets get a realistic estimate together. If we have no idea when it will really be done, it's just another idea we've fallen in love with, and it WILL BE 5 years till its done. I'll throw my 5 year estimate out there until somebody can refute it with some factual basis. Until then, my guess is as good as any.

Does anybody know if any real work is being done on the optics?

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IMHO I believe that we should pursue placing the new 14" GOTO on the existing pier in the front of the trailer. Should the desire and manpower exist at a later time then it COULD be moved into a newly built observatory.
While I agree with Scott's sentiments regarding the Dobsonian, I also agree that the shed is not a suitable facility for this new telescope.

Seems to me that this is the most logical path to pursue; it does not require that we remove another telescope from service nor does it require that a new facility be built. This is also the fastest path to placing the telescope into service!

Note: There has been much discussion of the 20" project in this thread, I will open another topic to continue that discussion.

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How about placing the 14" SCT in the Michael Spacek Observatory. Could it just be possible to place this SCT on a telescoping pier such as that sold by Pier-Tech Inc. See their ad on page 128 of the Octorber 2005 Sky & Telescope. This telescoping pier has 20" of precise vertical travel with the push of buttion. Would this make it possible to site this telescope in the existing observatory (structure virtually unmodified), getting rid of an existing instrument of questionable use.

Regular Member
Registered: 06/02/09
Posts: 97
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I also like he idea of having the new 14 inch Meade in the Spacek roll-off observatory. The location is really good and has one the best horizons in all directions at PR. Also large crowds could gather around the scope when it it set up, as it should be an attention-getter. Also the open sky would be available to use the GPS features of the telescope during start-up.

The Pier-Tech Piers start at about $1750, but this is cheaper than building a new observatory. Without a pier the scope would be way too low to use. Perhaps there is a way for us to cheaply build a telescoping pier for less $??. I think the scope weighs around 100# or so.

John Kmetz

8 posts :: Page 1 of 1