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THE OBSERVATORY - POSSUM OBSERVATORY
Possum Observatory is not your conventional observatory where the bulk of the building is fixed and the upper dome rotates. With my observatory the whole building (walls, roof, and some of the floor) rotates. In a nut shell the building sits on a steel ring of 1.8m (5') diameter which sits on the ground. The inner floor is fixed to the ring and the outer floor and building has eight rollers which rotate on the ring.
The genius behind the design and construction of the first model of this observatory was a friend of mine - Bill McLachlan, initially Bill's observatory (Te Whare Whetu - Maori for 'The Star House') was smaller (2m on each wall and about 1.7m (5' 11") high - I used to bump my head on the ceiling at night). Sadly, Bill passed away in 1995 and left the observatory to me.
In the winter of 2000 Ian (Bill's son) and I dismantled the Te Whare Whetu. I stored it for five months and then began to build 'Possum Observatory' in the very hot December of 2000...
(Click on the images for a larger view)
|Ian, about to do the damage...||The walls come tumbling down.||The outer floor sitting on the ring.|
|Ian standing beside the pea combine harvester ring upon which the observatory rotates.||Ian and I taking the ring off the trailor - note the expressions on our faces - "shoot this is heavy!"||Ian, my neighbour Harold, and I standing beside the about to be stored observatory. What a day!|
|I began to build and enlarge the observatory on a super hot day.||The new floor size - 3.4 x 3.1m, contra to the old 2 x 2m.||After laying the ring on some blocks I then buried the pillar.|
|Some friends and I about to lay the floor and rollers onto the ring.||The floor now sitting on the 1.8m ring. It was a joy to see it easily spin.||My friend Andrew Randel and I laying the floor sheets.|
|How we separated the inner floor from the outer floor. The jigsaw was fixed while the floor was rotated.||Next the old walls from Te Whare Whetu were bolted onto the floor; my brother Mike helps.||My mother standing beside the wall framing. The corner pegs are anti-tipping devises (just in case).|
|Wrapping up my baby. I used building paper, bubble wrap, and then silver building paper.||Putting the wall ply on. Mike helps.||After the walls were completed we then naturally began on the roof. Ian helps (he is a fountain of knowledge).|
|My friends Andrew and Jason putting some paint on. Good on ya guys!||Ian and I continue with the roof. This summer we had 6 weeks with no cloud||Laying the roofing insulation. The same materials as the walls were used.|
|Putting on the roof ply.||The hatch railing is now built. Basically the hath slides up and down these rails.||Ian sliding the hatch on. It has vertical sides which loop under the railing.|
|Ian making sure that the rails are parallel and secure.||A side view showing the pathway of the hatch as it slides up and down the railing to open or close the slot.||An end view showing the pathway of the hatch. I had a 25cm (10") f10 Meade SCT at this stage.|
|The finished product! After many hours and NZ$1950, I have a very user friendly observatory...||Another view, notice that part of the wall folds down so that lower altitude objects can be viewed.||One funny quirk of this rotating building is that people will walk in the door at one section spot and out at another!|
|All smiles. Everything works - the building rotates very well and the 16" f4.5 reflector works like a charm...||The fixed floor can be seen (the blue circle), whilst the outer floor and walls (black) rotate around it.||Te Whare Whetu's floor size (brown) compared to the enlarges Possum Observatory. The 16" f4.5 is blue.|