Observatory Corner - April 2020

Original article appears in GuideStar April, 2020.

* Too Long;Didn’t Read  

  1. Dark site open. Buildings closed
  2. Roof. Still broke but solution in progress. Thank you Kay!
  3. WiFi. Mo’ betta
  4. Road Lights. Out with the old, in with the new
  5. Dead tree. Down!
  6. ORVFD. Fundraiser for new fire station
  7. Volunteers. Yes, please
Bored With Being Stuck Inside and Nothing Else to Do Version

At lot has been happening at the Dark Site this past month. Unfortunately, not much dark sky observing because of the weather. That has not stopped people from asking if the dark site is still open or kept people from trying to take advantage of extra time off and breaks in the weather ...

I’m sure everyone has received their fair share of email from every vendor and company they’ve ever dealt with explaining that they are still open and how much they care about the safety of their employees and customers. I won’t force another on you but Yes, the dark site is still open. The shared buildings and equipment are unavailable until further notice but there are plenty of observing pads with greater than 6ft between each.

Here’s the skinny on what’s been going on this past month

The roof issue is still being worked on. You have to remember that this was built in the early ‘80s, so it now time to decode what was built then to convert it to more modern technology. Electronic wiz, Kay McCallum is working this. When the issue is resolved I’ll let everyone know so we can start scheduling the telescopes again and have some more training classes once this virus stuff slows down and allows us to function normally.

New lights_1.jpgAn ongoing project is to replace all the red road lights. All of the previous lights have been removed, taking out as much as we can of the wiring and conduits. We are putting in 4”x4” post, about 2 feet in the ground with concrete, and topping the post with solar powered red LEDs. To date, 7 LEDs have been installed with 16 more to come.

In the camping area, one of the dead trees has been taken down. This was a safety issue.

The Wi-Fi has been expanded to provide better coverage to the picnic and camping areas.

btn_donateCC_LG.gif The Oakridge Volunteer Fire Department (OVFD) is raising funds for a new fire station. They are our neighbors and first responders for emergencies at the Dark Site. HAS will be contributing $500 for this worthy cause and I invite others to contribute if you have the means. You can donate via the PayPal link on the right or by sending a check to Oakridge Volunteer Fire Department, 1904-A Oakridge Road, Weimar, TX 78962.

I would like to thank all the recent Observatory Committee volunteers: Kay & Paul McCallum, Walt Cooney, Mike Edstrom, Don Selle, Don Taylor, Rob Torrey and Steve Goldberg for their tireless and continued work with projects and maintenance out at the dark site.

The mowing and growing season is upon us. The grass and trees remain unscathed by COVID-19. We’re always in need of volunteers to help with building and tool maintenance or grass and tree cutting, and trimming. If you would like to help, please drop me a line at [email protected].

See you out at the dark site!
Chris Ober
HAS Observatory Director

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