The Winter Bay Observatory is a two-story dome located on my property in Millcove, Prince Edward Island, Canada. The observatory was actually completed one year prior to the construction of our home on the property. The observatory doubles as a home office for my day job at a software development and technology consulting company. Having the observatory completed early allowed me to supervise the construction of our house while keeping pace at work.
I constructed the main observatory structure and installed the 8' Exploradome myself. The foundation and massive two-story pier were constructed by a local contractor while the finishing work inside and out were completed by local carpenters. They made my rough structural work look much better!
The first floor consists of heated (and cooled) office space with desk, computer, and printer. Of course, a Lazy Boy, bar fridge, and 40" TV are also a necessity! I also have two bookshelves for storing astronomy books and equipment. The first floor also includes an unheated equipment room where power and telecommunications for the observatory and house are located.
The viewing room is located on the second floor above the equipment room. It features 4.5' high walls covered by a motorized 8' Exploradome.
Please scroll to the bottom of this page for photos of the construction process.
The primary telescope is a Celestron 14" EdgeHD Schmidt-Cassegrain used primarily for planetary imaging. It's got many modifications, including a Kendrick dew control system, the TEMP-est temperature equilibration system, a MoonLite 2.5" Large Format Crayford-style focuser with the High Resolution Stepper Motor add-on for fine focus control, and a ZWO finder scope mounted on top via a Losmandy D-type dovetail.
I also own an Orion 130mm f/7 triplet apochromatic refractor which I intend to use primarily for deep sky observing and eventually imaging. I am very new to deep sky observation and haven't really gotten into it much yet. I eventually plan on adding a cooled deep sky camera to this setup. Stay tuned.
The Vaonis Stellina is an 80 mm refractor telescope stored in the center of a portable observation station. It connects to your smartphone or tablet via its own wireless network. Within 4 minutes of startup, it is fully pointed and calibrated and ready to view any object using the Stellina app. Once you select an object, Stellina shows that area of the sky on your screen and within seconds you'll begin to see the structure build and enhance. As time goes on, more and more detail appears as Stellina takes multiple short exposures, stacks them, and processes them to make the object look its best.
When it arrives in a couple of weeks, I will be using Stellina primarily for imaging Galaxies and Nebulae. I'll place it in the centre of my front yard for an unobstructed view of the sky in all directions.
The 14" SCT is mounted to the Paramount MX+ German Equatorial from Software Bisque. The mount is married to the 12" pier using a specially designed plate from Dan's Pier Top Plates. Excellent product!
The dome itself is an 8' Exploradome available from Polydome. I recently upgraded the original rubber mounting ring with the newer stainless steel version with improved wheels, and the difference is remarkable. Smooth and effortless rotation.
I swapped out the automation solution from the original Foster-based controller and accompanying software to the MaxDome II Observatory Dome Control System from Diffraction Limited. I use TheSkyX and it's Dome Control add-on to sync the dome with the mount. After some initial troubleshooting, this new setup has been working very well. A major improvement over the Foster setup.