Observatory Construction

The dome construction project has been nicely documented by Pam Humbert on the Photo Gallery page, in the SMAS Construction Album.

The construction album starts just after the dome has been transported from the Nike site and deposited on the grounds of NCEEC.

The next page shows the details of the studs used to support the dome, the top ring that connects the studs, the sheathing being applied, painting and finally the dome being lifted into place on April 24, 1999.

Hey, the dome exterior is done, but what about the control building? This page documents this part of the project. The final photo on this page describes what the pier looked like just after it was selected from a scrap pile and transported to the site. The steel tube for the pier is far heavier than it looks!

Well, the dome and control building are pretty well done and now we move into the interior of the dome, perform structural tests to make sure the pier can take the load, and start the ledger strip that connects the observing platform to the dome stud wall. Notice that the concrete pad the pier is mounted on has a strip allowing the pier to be isolated from vibrations occurring on the dome pad and footers.

After the observing platform is competed, construction continues with the layout of the circular stair case which was a challenge unto itself considering no one of us had built anything like this before.

After all this, the crew just couldn't wait to install the Meade 16" telescope on the pier, install the main mirror and perform eyepiece checkout. More work is done cutting ventilation openings to keep the dome as close to outside ambient temperature as possible. More photos show interior details work that ensures a look that is more than just plain and utilitarian.

More details! Ventilation filler blocks are laid to dry before being installed between the observing platform and the outside dome wall. Take a close look and you will notice that each filler block has a different hole pattern. Every other filler block is drilled with a pattern representing a different constellation. A connecting concrete pad is formed up and poured to keep the two buildings as clean as possible. Data cables are pulled, carpet template laid out and step lighting is displayed in this final page. All of this is an example of the multi-disciplined talent pool needed to pull this entire project together.

Last Updated: 2/7/16