Accessing the Sky – building Sydney Observatory’s new dome – post 7

This is the seventh post in a series which documents building a new dome for Sydney Observatory which is especially designed for people with disabilities and their carers. This project is important to our visitors and we plan to open the project late January 2015, with public tours from February 2015, thanks to funding from the NSW Department of Ageing Disability and Home Care. The project is being managed for MAAS by Adam Adair of Pure Projects and our builders are Zadro Constructions. The building was designed by NSW Government Architects Angus Donald, Vivian Sioutas and Terry King.  The dome will house a new accessible DFM telescope with the revolutionary Articulated Relay Eyepiece. It will also display the 1890 Melbourne Astrographic telescope designed and built by Howard Grubb. The dome was originally built by Morts Dock engineering under instruction from Harley Wood and was operational from 1952.

 Geoff Wyatt, inspecting the dome
Education Program Manager , Geoff Wyatt, inspecting the dome. Photo T. Stevenson

In post 1 and post 2 of this series I provided information about why Sydney Observatory is building a new dome, where the dome came from and how the building program is progressing. In post 3 I explained Andrew James’s role advising on accessibility and his deep engagement with the research outcomes from the Astrographic Catalogue and the instruments which will feature in the display inside the new building. In post 4 I confirmed the name ‘East Dome’ and that the concrete pour had been successful and bricks and block-work walls were progressing. In post 5 I described the excitement with the arrival of the historic Astrographic telescope mount. In post 6 I described the exciting day, November 6, when the historic dome arrived and was fitted on top of the new building. A ‘dome topping’ ceremony was held with Deputy Premier Troy Grant and Minister John Ajaka.

DFM telescope for Sydney Observatory
Greg Stevens, DFM engineer machinist, with our new partially assembled telescope. Photo K. Melsheimer

The big excitement over the past weeks has been all about the new telescope. Kate Melsheimer, from DFM telescopes in Colorado USA, sent us images of the telescope under assembly in their workshop.

In the image right you can see Greg Stevens, DFM engineer machinist, with the partially assembled telescope. This image was taken before they had installed the primary mirror in its cell and attached the mirror cell to the bottom of the white tube. They then installed the secondary mirror and Focus Housing to the top of the white tube and attached the control system cables to the telescope and performed function tests.

DFM Telescope for Sydney Observatory
DFM electronic technician, Jack Labbe, performing some software tests. Photo K. Melsheimer

The second image right shows DFM electronic technician, Jack Labbe, performing some software tests using the control system and hardware with DFM’s in-house demo mount. Before the telescope was packed it was tested during the night. The telescope was carefully packed, with its computer, mount and tubes.  It was then airfreighted to Sydney Airport via Hawaii. There were a few tense days while the crate sat at Honolulu airport, then relief when it safely arrived when we took delivery of the telescope which had travelled all the way from Colorado, USA.

Crate at MAAS workshop
Crate in MAAS workshop Sydney. Photo S. McMunn

You can get some idea of the size of the box that holds the telescope and is now  in the MAAS Conservators workshop from the photograph taken by prject manager Susan McMunn. This was sent to Kate back at DFM to reassure her that all was well.

For the base build team the past month has been all about the details and making sure the building is ready for the DFM telescope and the arrival of Mark from DFM who is going to assemble and commission the telescope.

The roof is on and the building is now rendered, we are very fortunate that this happened before the past many days of fierce storms and heavy rain. The dome now has a finished floor and the lift for wheelchair users was installed last week. The electrical, lighting and data connections have now been positioned ready for connection.  Some minor adjustments to the location of services by Zadro Constructions meant Sydney Observatory have created a great space for future signage.

East Dome building under construction
This image shows the East Dome building with its roof, and recently rendered walls. Photo T.Stevenson.


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