Unplugged Observatory

Background:

  • CDL has been gifted an observatory grade optical telescope, complete with mounts, drives and computer controls.
  • The Intershelter Dome that was supposed to be a 6 week exhibit at InfoAge is still sitting on site. As it was intended as a demonstration project, the seals and gaskets between section were not installed during assembly. The interior has warped and is suffering from damage caused by sun and cold.
  • CDL is the recipient of a carrier grade photo voltaic array, charge controller, and shortly, batteries.

Concept:

  • CDL would like to put forth the concept of merging all of the above into the “Unplugged Observatory” – an off-grid, self-contained facility that demonstrates energy independence and give students an idea what working at a remote optical observatory is like.

Implementation:

  • CDL would disassemble the Intershelter dome, clean and prep the panels for short term storage
  • The platform would be disassembled, damaged material discarded, and moved to storage.
  • The platform would be re-constructed, using a PE approved design (structural and ADA), and the dome, PV array, and antenna mast re-deployed on the refreshed platform.
  • Low voltage lighting (that runs off the storage batteries) would line the interior of the dome.
  • Network equipment, IP cameras, WiFi, instruments, and telescope control would be selected to run directly from the storage batteries and PV array. A large digital “gas gauge” would allow students to see the load, and if the solar cells can keep up with the demands.

Usage:

  • In order to engage as wide an audience as possible, the equipment will enable these views to be live-streamed to the world online and shared with schools and the public through the CDL website. The equipment would also allow the capture of data on alien planets orbiting distant stars and chemical analyses of nebulae, which could be shared widely and used by university students.

With your help, the astronomers at the Unplugged Observatory can throw the doors to the cosmos wide open and inspire and excite people all over the world.