Project Details and Objectives

Stage 1 of renovations on Sheep Hill Observatory will completely refurbish the steel dome that presently sits atop the observatory. Built in the early 70's, the dome has weathered extensively over time and is now in need of major repairs. Members of the organization have maintained the structure throughout the years performing minor and routine maintenance. However, the repairs needed presently will require professional outside contractors to complete properly.

The dome presently has multiple leaks where the sheet metal has rusted away over time. This puts the telescope inside and all of the electrical equipment, optical equipment, records and literature, and the interior structure of the building in jeopardy.

The dome will need to be removed from the observatory by crane and set in the parking lot for much of this work to be completed. During this time we will replace all the pulleys and cables that operate the shutters, replace or refurbish the rollers and tracks the shutters ride on, refurbish the rollers that the dome itself rides on, and inspect everything for proper working order and make repairs as needed.

Current state of the dome (front)

Current state of the dome (rear)

Dome Shutters

The steel shutters on the dome are in very poor condition. A seam in the sheet metal, midway up each door has completely rusted through, leaking significant amounts of water directly onto the telescope. The steel framing of the doors has also begun to rust as a result of water leaking down the inside. The shutters will be re-sheathed with new sheet metal, or replaced entirely.

Holes in the West shutter (inside)

Holes in the West shutter (outside)

East Shutter - entire seam is open

East Shutter (inside)

Main Dome

The main body of the dome is in good structural condition, but does have some significant deterioration along a seem that circles the top of the dome. Water is leaking along this seam, but not as severely as the shutters. This damage will be repaired by a metal fabricator, on site.

Once the dome has been repaired, the outside coating will be stripped, sealed and re-coated in an epoxy coating. This will keep it protected for many years to come and be will virtually maintenance free.

Top of dome, rear section

Seams on outside of dome

Top of dome, deteriorating badly

Inside view of the top of the dome

Temporary Repairs

We are in the process of making temporary repairs to make the observatory as water tight as possible while funds can be raised for a proper restoration. The seams in the doors will be cleaned out, old caulking, epoxy patches and rust removed. The extent of the damage is considerable once cleaned out. The holes will be filled with epoxy and backed with flashing while the outside is filled with caulk to make it as water tight as possible. It is not expected that these measures will last very long before becoming problematic again.

Working on temporary repairs

Flashing epoxied to inside and outside filled with caulk

Future Plans and Minor Projects

Once the dome has been restored we plan to work on upgrading some equipment inside the observatory. The gears and the drive motor need to be replaced. We hope to upgrade the mount and motors to better support astrophotography, including adding manual motor control on both axes; adding a better quality guidescope; balancing the telescope; recoating the primary mirror. We also plan to upgrade certain equipment such as our aging line of eyepieces and filters, among other things.

Minor projects include building an information kiosk, adding signage to the building, and trimming back some trees.