My colleague Sakis and I, two years after introducing ourselves to the magical world of amateur astronomy and astrophotography, we realized that a permanent installation is the way to go for pursuing high-end imaging. Thus a decision was taken to build an observatory that will allow us to pursue the images that we dreamt.
We chose Rachia, Veria, a village at northwestern Greece at an altitude of 550 m. above sea level. Light pollution is nearly non-existent and usually the skies are 6 mag.
The construction began at 2006 with lots dreams and an increased appetite for high-tech solutions. We chose steel as the main material for the observatory, for structural rigidity and nearly zero maintenance. The observatory type was selected to be of sliding roof design, for the simplicity of its construction and the benefits of wide field imaging, as opposed to a dome design. During 2010 we upgraded the observatory to full remote control status.
1st stage - March 2006
The pillar was constructed by a hollow section tube of 90mm diameter and 3 meters height. It was submerged by 1.2 meters in a square hole of 70 cm side and 1.5 meters height. The structure was secured with armed cement and an extra thick metal frame.
2nd stage - April 2006
The frame was constructed by square hollow beams (10x10 cm) and the overall dimensions of the observatory were 5.5x3.5 meters. The metal structure has secure earth connections.
3rd stage - May 2006
The roof’s frame is also a steel construction with hollow beams and it is supported by metal wheel rollers with thrust bearings on a square rail. The skin is made of polymer material that has a “wood” effect. The inner/outer skin is wood.
4th stage - June 2006
Warm room
The dimensions are 2.75x3.5 meters, half of the overall area. As the headquarters, it serves as building monitoring unit, astronomical equipment monitoring unit, security unit and of course is suitable equipped for remote controlling. Heating and accommodation are provided for a long night!
5th stage - January 2010
Motor and Remote operation
Motor: MGS 2hp
Control card: PhidgetInterfaceKit 1012
Inverter: Optidrive
The system controls remotely the power at
Roof, Telescope, Mount, CCD, Flatbox, lights
6th stage - February 2010
Surveillance and alarm system
Win4Net DVR server
24hour Real-time Display and Recording
4 infrared cameras
Telescope, Warm room, 2 surround area
Alarm system with motion sensors
Connection with security agency
Final stage
This is the front view of the finished observatory. That’s the first view of anybody coming to the observatory.