SVO Major Equipment Upgrade Funded!

Support for small observatory research is difficult to come by. Luckily there are companies out there who realize the value of individuals efforts and of small observatory scientific research.

Celestron is one of those companies. They recognize that many customers not only use their optical instruments for visual or imaging work, but also as tools for scientific research. In 2016 Squirrel Valley Observatory W34 became one of those users as we began a modest near-earth asteroid program. Since that time our scope for this work has been a Celestron EdgeHD 8 inch which has performed beyond our expectations for a scope of that size, having collected data on over 1,400 asteroids, with more than 460 of those being unique near-earth objects (NEO’s); and more importantly having provided confirmation observations in support of the large sky surveys discoveries, for 130 new NEO’s to date.

Celestron recently recognized the value of our near earth astreroid confirmation/tracking program, and has chosen to support Squirrel Valley Observatory with a major equipment upgrade. I am proud to announce that Celestron, a world leader in optical telescope technology has funded a Celestron Edge HD 14-inch telescope for use at Squirrel Valley Observatory. Their gracious and much appreciated contribution will allow us to not only continue our near-earth asteroid program, but excel beyond the capabilities of our current 8-inch scope.
As additional accessories for the system transition arrive in the coming weeks, the new 14″ will be modified and outfitted with a hyperstar system, which will not only reduce the focal length but also increase our field of view.

A secondary supporter of our program’s success is Hollywood General Machining otherwise known as Losmandy Astronomical, manufacturer of the legendary Losmandy mounts. By providing us with a price point that meets our budget Losmandy will also play a key part in the current upgrade and continuation of our NEO program. Our existing G11 mount has performed well but will not meet the heavier load demands of the modified Celestron EdgeHD 14. We expect the newly designed heavier duty G11GT will meet those demands.

Without the support of these valued vendors, it would be a real struggle for our near earth asteroid studies to progress beyond our current capabilities here at Squirrel Valley Observatory.
These legendary companies in the astronomical community are reminding us once again that science and research are not limited to academia. Science belongs to all who ask… ” what and why?”

We do continue to seek funding for camera and software upgrades.

Pictures of the transition will be posted in the coming weeks.

Thank you Celestron!
Thank you Losmandy!

Squirrel Valley Observatory W34
Randy Flynn
Columbus, NC

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3 Comments

  1. Hi Randy,

    It was great reading your story in the Laurel of Asheville and the beneficial work that you do!

    I have just acquired a used Meade 10” SCT From the Astro Club of Asheville and it looks like it needs cleaning inside the front glass plate. I’m wondering if you know of a place that can do this kind of work. I would like to get it tuned up and optimized as best I can. It’s an older model (LX200 GPS) but high end in its day!

    Thanks and keep up the good work! Do you have tours or visitors?

    Thanks,
    Bruce

    • Hello Bruce,
      Thank you for the kind words. The observatory is quiet small so I limit tours to 1 or 2 people at a time, but those are currently on hold for Covid precautions

      I don’t know of any place close by that I would trust to remove and replace a corrector plate. It is a bit tricky and not for the faint of heart. I have a smudge on the inside of mine and unless it causes issues, I will resist the urge of removing that plate anytime soon. With that said, there are some good instructional videos online and possibly some members of the club that could help if the dirt is really causing issues. The thing with corrector plates besides not scratching them is care must be taken when removing the holding ring and it is necessary to mark the edge of the ring attached to the plate, and the tube, so that the plate goes back in exactly in the same position it was previously. This can be done with a piece of tape. Unless the inside of the corrector plate is really bad, I don’t recommend removing it. If you have to though, I suggest watching this fellows video several times. He knows what he is doing and makes it look easier than it actually is. This is a Celestron so it could vary from the Meade slightly.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e66yIuD3cMk

      Also for cleaning a corrector plate (NOT the Mirror), I recommend following this procedure from Clay Sherrod of Arkansas Sky Observatories.
      https://arksky.org/aso-guides/aso-general-guides/23-aso-fine-optics-cleaning-system?showall=1

      As you may know, cleaning to often can be worse than a little dust, but sometimes it is necessary. Please take note of using a very very soft brush to lightly pull the dust off of the plate before any type of cleaning with solution is done. AS you will see in the article compressed air is not recommended. Best of luck and let me know if I can be of help.

      • Thanks for all of the details.
        I’ll hold on cleaning for now then and enjoy the clear nights we are finally having! Thanks again and for the work you are doing for Science.

        Bruce

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