Created: 05-12-1999. . . . . Last revised: 05-04-2021.
This is my attempt to share "solar observing" with the net. On this page, I will try to display my solar observation results. Due to the fact that I can only observe on the weekends, and that Pittsburgh isn't the most sunny place in the world, my observations may not be current. Still, I hope you will find this page of some interest, at least the first time. :)
Celestron 8" Ultima SCT (f10) Daystar .6A T-Scanner Ha filter Lumicon H-Alpha 1.5A Prominence filter Coronado PST Coronado PST CaK Baader Solar Film filter (white-light) 1000 Oaks II glass filter (white-light) 80mm University Refractor (f3.2) Konig Eyepieces Amici Prisms Lumicon multi eyepiece filter slider Green #56 eyepiece filter Blue #80A eyepiece filter
Here are several of my past video capture solar white-light and H-alpha images. There are many more solar images that you can find links for at my Astro Videography website. (also lot's of other solar-system and deep-sky images)
Below, you will find photos of the construction of BWSO. I named my observatory after the large groundhog that lives under it, and because of the primary reason for building it. (solar observing).
BWSO originally started out in life in June of 1991 as a typical 'barn' style shed. I began storing my 8" dobsonian reflector, table & chair, and other misc accessories inside and would observe out in the yard. Later, I added a small stone patio and partly enclosed it to block out the glare from some nearby lights.
In the Summer of 1997, I added a small PVC-concrete pier for my 8" SCT.
While the pier helped increase my observing, it was still inconvenient to have to setup and takedown the SCT everytime I wanted to use it. I wanted something that would let me leave everything setup and ready.
I began to toy with ideas of modifying the barn shed. As visions of roll-off roofs (and roofs falling off) began to fly around my head, my wife came up with the perfect solution: "Add on to the back of the shed, and have it's roof open up". As the back of the barn shed faced south, the idea would work well for Solar and Lunar observing, and give me some limited access to Deep-Sky. (besides, living only 6 miles from downtown Pittsburgh, when I really want to observe deep-sky, I head for the country). After looking at a few shed kits, I decided to build it myself. It took several weekends in May of 1999, working on it part time, but as you can see, it turned out good.
After visiting several friend's observatories this summer (2003), and noticing how nice their interiors look, I decided to remodel my little 'shed' observatory. First, I glued insulation foamboard to the walls and roof. Then I added a plastic vapor barrier. I recycled some old plywood into a half-interior wall. This gives me an 8' x 8' 'finished inside' observatory, and leaves a 4' x 8' section for the yard tools and lawnmower. Then up went the panneling and trim, with new carpet being last.
I meant to take a few photos of the bare walls, but I forgot. Here is a little tour of the finished interior. In addition to housing my video monitors, computers, and telescope accessories, I also moved my short-wave listening post out to the shed. I can tune in the BBC, or listen to Radio Canada, Japan, Taiwan, and many other international broadcasters while doing a little video observing or imaging. (use a RS DX302 & DX380). The curtain across the entrance helps keep out dust from the unfinished section. During the winter, I can pull close that curtain, and the curtain that separates the main telescope annex from the observer station and use a small propane heater, to bring the indoor temperature up to a comfortable level, and not affect the scope.
Finally, here are a couple of shots of my second pier mounted 8" SCT, (Celestron Super C8 Plus) which is located outside the shed on the fenced patio. I've run the scope controller cables and video feed thru the shed wall, and once I manually slew the scope to a desired object, I can operate and observe, via video, from the inside. This allows me to observe other sections of the sky not available to the south facing annex scope. (or solar observe with one scope in white-light, and the other in H-alpha!). As both scopes are 8" SCT's, I can switch accessories back and forth as needed. (You radio fans may notice the base of my 30' "Ringo" vertical antenna. I also have a 50' longwire antenna, which is out of the picture).
Update - I sold my Celestron Super C8+ pictured above and purchased a Coronado PST. In addition to piggybacking it on my Ultima C8 (using 50mm finder dovetail rings), I also mount it outside on the pier for late afternoon observing when the shed walls are blocking the Sun.
Update - November 2009, after 10 years of operation, I finally decided to install a hand crank winch for opening and closing the flip roof. Works very nice! An added bonus is that I can open the roof up just a little bit or all the way.
A few night time shots
Due to the 2020 Pandemic, not planning on attending any starparties this year.
Year of stay-at-home backyard 'starparty' at Big WoodChuck Observatory!
Permanently mounted observatory telescope: (8" Meade LX200GPS SCT with a StellaCam-3 analog videocam. Piggybacked 80mm University Optics Refractor. 50mm Orion Refractor & Stellacam-II)
Travel telescope: (8" Celestron SCT optical tube on a CGem mount using a ZWO ASI294MC camera. Piggybacked 80mm Kson Refractor & ASI290MC,
with a 60mm Antares refractor guidescope & ASI120MC)
DIY allsky cam: (ZWO ASI224MC with a 1/3" 1.25mm IR MP fisheye lens)
Revolution R2 camera & Canon 5-55mm widefield lens