Rolling Roof Observatory

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see Google satellite view of Thousand Oaks (interactive)

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Location: Thousand Oaks, California 91360 USA

 Latitude: North +34 degrees 13 minutes 29.62 seconds  Longitude: West -118 degrees 52 minutes 21.03 seconds

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Finally finished the refurbishment of my home observatory last weekend (03/11/2006). I've had this observatory since 1981, but had primarily used it for testing and equipment storage in my 'film days'. My sky is too light polluted for film work, as the film negatives were fogging (very dense) with exposures of 5 or 6 minutes, with both the f5 reflectors. See this light pollution link to my observatory.

Using a UHC or Light Pollution filter (with Kodak Tech Pan film) did not produce satisfactory results, as the 'long' single exposures (~2 hours) tended to lack the contrast that a similar exposure at a dark sky site produced.


Optical Tube Assembly's are:

Homemade (assembled) in 1985; 8 inch f5 Newtonian reflector

Homemade (assembled) in 1992; 14.5 inch f5 Newtonian reflector

Purchased used from Bob Fera; Celestron 11 Schmidt Cassegrain (black tube)


Bill Schaefer AT-120 German Equatorial Mount; purchased new in December 1986 from Astro Trac Engineering

dual axis 60 hertz AC synchronous motors: no GOTO capabilities, no slewing/positioning capabilities, no internal autoguider connection

see Scott Rosen's image of Asteroid 5630 Billschaefer (1993 FZ)

CCD Camera:

 Santa Barbara Instrument Group (SBIG) ST-8XME, purchased new in August 2005

(image scale with 8" f5 Newtonian - 1.83 arcsec / pixel)

(image scale with 14.5" f5 Newtonian - 1.01 arcsec / pixel)



Observatory setting looking


 The big pine tree in my neighbor's yard prevents me from imaging to the northwest past the meridian, North of about +34 declination

See image from 2011 and notice the branch directly above (not over) this looking north view has gown more, and sagged lower



Observatory setting looking


(from the park)


This view gives a better impression of the size and proximity of the big pine tree



Observatory setting looking



Notice the pine tree branch just over the fence. It is not directly over the observatory, but is about 10-15 feet to the west

I 'eliminated' this branch late last year (2006), as can be seen from the image above



This recent (2008) view due west was shot from just over the eastern rail.



This recent view (06/2013) show the branches that limit my imaging west of the meridian past about +34 degrees North.



Observatory setting looking



 Tree in my yard (in 2005) blocks transiting objects at around declination -30 degrees


 Tree (now, December 2008, 3 years later, it's the Palm tree) in my yard blocks transiting objects at around declination -23 degrees



This view (08/2012, with the 8"f5) looking due south. Taken from the north wall of the observatory



Latest view (10/13/2014) after Palm tree removed last year ... can image down to maybe -25 degrees


Wide view of observatory setting taken from the park

looking due east


Horizons due west and east are pretty good, but as you can see from the above images, due north and south are 'somewhat'  compromised



Inside RRO

View of the 8" f5 Newtonian with the ST-8XME. The old Lumicon 'non-rotating' helical focuser has been replace with a Starlight Instruments

Feather Touch 2 inch Newtonian focuser. I added the motorized feature to my Feather Touch in early 2007 .... see below for a close-up

Focusing much easier now, using the motorized Feather Touch and the wonderful FocusMax (early versions free ... by Steve Brady and Larry Weber)

Free FocusMax not supported any longer ... go to CCDWare for version 4 (not free)

For the last free version of FocusMax (the one I am using is V3.7.0.52); 

go to: click on Downloads - a few old v3 files

View of the 14.5" f5 Newtonian with the ST-8XME

I replaced the 8" f5 tube assembly with the 14.5" f5 tube assembly on 09/01/2012, and moved the Feather Touch focuser from the 8" f5 to the 14.5" f5

This is the telescope that produced the vast majority of the images on my film site


This observatory was constructed when I had my 8" Celestron (the outside diameter is 8 feet square)

The 14.5" f5 barely fits, and it is very cramped when working inside to set up an imaging run

This is one of two ways I can 'stow' the 14" to close the roof


This is the other way ... makes it easier to get into the observatory


Because of the height (as compared to the 8" f5 Newtonian and the Celestron 11) of the focuser with the 14.5", I had to mount my drive corrector (and the ST-8 power supply) on the tube assembly, otherwise the connection from the drive corrector to the autoguider jack on the ST-8XME is not long enough. In December 2012, I purchased a 6-pin telephone connector and longer cabling, and was able to move the drive corrector off the tube




wider view of area (see light pollution explanation)

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