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Seeing the need for facility for the development and testing of Optec astronomical equipment, the Optec Observatory was designed and built in 1993. The observatory was constructed in modular sections and then assembled on site.

The building is a 7 feet (214cm) x 12 feet (366cm) wood frame structure, consisting of an observation deck area, with a 6 feet (183cm) square Control Room. The building exterior is covered with vinyl siding. While the roof is separated into two areas, each using a different roofing material. The roof covering the control room is covered with shingles, but the design of the observation area roof (which necessitates manually opening each roof panel) precludes covering these to panels with shingles which could add weight. The building is installed so that the telescope is nearest to the southern exposure to reduce the instances where the telescope might have to point over roof shingles which may radiate heat for hours into the night.

The roof of the observation deck is a clamshell design, which is opened manually using metal pipes as handles. The two halves open at the peak of the roof and are hinged to the sides of the building.

Optec Observatory - opened

This roof is made of marine plywood covered with aluminum flashing on top. It is easily maintained, leakproof, and is lighter than shingles. It also has a great benefit in that foreign objects - branches, snow, etc., will not adhere to the surface and hamper the opening of the roof for observations.

Provision for a telescope is made with an isolated concrete pier. The pier is surrounded by, but not in contact with an observation deck which is constructed of treated lumber. While standard interior plywood is used for the walls.

Several work stations are set up around the telescope, along with storage facilities to hold the various filters, cords, and other accessories that may be required for observations and equipment testing.

Jerry Persha at the computer control center
Left: Gerald "Jerry" Persha (founder of Optec, Inc.) at the computer control center.

The Control Room is insulated and heated in the colder months for the computer system and comfort of the observer. The Control Room is also paneled, carpeted, and easily seats two individuals. The Control Room is equipped with the needed observational catalogues, as well as a computer system for running the telescope, CCD camera, and Optec components. This computer operates Windows PC operating system.

Observatory control room

Software used in the observatory includes:

  • Atomic Clock: this utility synchronizes the computer clock with the WWV time signals from Boulder, Colorado.
  • The Sky and Guide 6.0: These two star catalogues are the primary programs used for target acquisition.
The observatory also uses software from Santa Barbara Instruments for control of the CCD cameras.

Although originally this observatory was primarily used as a testing facility for Optec products, the observatory has since become affiliated with the Minor Planet Center (station #755), and it periodically sends in astrometric observations of asteroids and comets.

Under excellent conditions, the limiting magnitude at the observatory is +20, and with the current CCD cameras, and asteroid astrometry is accomplished on asteroids down to magnitude +17.


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