Gaze into the Heavens

Our Observatory and Gear

In late 2014, we had “first light” at the observatory my family built on property south of Nashville, Tennessee. A fifteen foot fiberglass dome sits atop the structure. Here’s a picture of our observatory:

My dad was heavily involved in designing the observatory and its construction, and he has written a lengthy post on the Cloudy Nights online astronomy forum detailing its design and implementation. His posts can be found at this link:

[Link to forum thread]

Our main telescope is a TEC 200 f/8 fluorite apochomatic refractor mounted on an Astro-Physics 1600GTO equatorial mount.

The dome also doubles as a planetarium. Using a spherical mirror projection system and an overhead projector, we are able to project images of the night sky onto the ceiling of our observatory dome, using The SkyX planetarium software by Software Bisque. Here are photos of the planetarium program in use:

Photo taken in daylight.  Note the light from outside creeping in around the dome shutter.

Photo of the planetarium taken at night.

This is an affordable way to project images of the night sky onto a domed ceiling, and it gives us something to show visitors when our star parties and outreach events are clouded out. Here’s a photo of the spherical mirror projector system, including the overhead projector: