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Castle of clouds -observatory

CASTLE OF CLOUDS

Welcome to my observatory! Here is where most of my images are made. Nicknamed "Castle of clouds" the observatory is located in Varkaus, Finland. Behind it is one of the observatories that belongs to amateur astronomical association Warkauden Kassiopeia. You can find more about them here.

The observatory construction began in March 2019 with me and my friend. It took a year to get everything constructed and many months of fine tuning to make sure everything works as intended. Biggest challenge in the building process was to make everything as reliable as possible.

 

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The telescopes are fully automatic and are operated via Sequence Generator Pro -software. Both of them are capable of running without human interaction all night long. This makes it possible to acquire alot of exposure time with ease. Usually every deep sky photograph on this site has an exposure time between 10 and 30 hours. Also calibration frames can be acquired automatically.

If human interaction is needed we can see what is going on with surveilance cameras that can are sensitive to infrared light. This way it is possible to turn on external infrared light panels without disturbing other observers on-site that could be doing visual astronomy.

Currently the observatory houses a 100mm apochromatic refractor and a 150mm Newtonian reflector that belongs to my friend Erik Pirtala. Go check out his Astrobin too!

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The observatory is also equipped with an all sky camera and a weather station. This system monitors weather in real time and is also used to detect meteors entering our planets athmosphere automatically.

Live image and weather data can be viewed
here.

Because the observatory is located in such cold enviroment with frequent snowfall for most of the winter the roof needed to be reinforced to keep it from collapsing. The roof trusses are designed in a way that they can handle large amounts of weight from the snow without bending. Also the tracks are heated to avoid snow and ice accumulating on them.
The observatory electronics are powered by UPS power supply to get over short power outtages. In case there would be a longer one all of the compucters can be turned on automatically as soon as the power grid is back on.
UPS, router and other electronics are inside a heated housing to keep moisture out and prevent batteries from freezing.
Roof automation is custom built and based on Banana Pi controlled relay system. It controls everything from flat panels to infrared lights for security cameras and of course the roof itself.

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Skies here are very dark as the site is located in a Bortle scale 3 zone. Even faintest nebulas are within reach of the telescopes without light pollution gradients and remote control allows very long integration times with ease. The main goal is to create pretty pictures but some of the imaging time is used to make scientific contribution as well with photometric observations. Please visit the gallery to see the latest images.