Tuesday, May 24, 2016
ScopeDome: Environmental Controls
Sleeping is one of my favorite activities. Unfortunately, astrophotography prohibits getting a good night sleep. Well, that's how it used to be. Nowadays, automation provides some relief from the long hours behind the eyepiece.
Living in the mountains provide fantastic views of the night sky. However, the weather can change at a moments notice. If this happens while I'm sleeping then all of my precious equipment could get soaked. Rain and high winds can really ruin a night of photography. To solve this problem a reliable weather monitor is required. I installed an AAG CloudWatcher to monitor the clouds and wind. Along with some other programs, the CloudWatcher tells the computer that the weather is unsafe. The computer then tells the ScopeDome to close the shutter. The CloudWatcher continues to monitor the weather throughout the night. If the weather clears, the CloudWatcher tells the computer it's safe to open the ScopeDome shutter and resume taking photos. All this happens while I'm sleeping. The sensors are heated to prevent snow and ice from forming. I'm also using a rain sensor from Fosters Systems "AstroAlert" as a backup. Dew formation is minimized by a DewBuster which is another automation tool. The ScopeDome also has environmental controls that monitor humidity and heaters to prevent the components from freezing.
Up next...the robotic telescope mount.