Observatory Construction Page
(Building an observatory in the wilds of western New Mexico)

Our Little Mesa

A view of our little mesa, as seen from the SW. The green lines show North and South boundries.

Mark the Pier Base

A location is marked out with pink flags to show where to dig the hole for the base of the pier. (View to the SW)

Digging the Pier Base

Danny Riccitelli (Sandbox Construction, Pie Town, NM) starts to dig the hole for the pier block, which will be 6' sqaure and 3' deep.

Pier Base Hole with Rebar

The hole is dug and a rebar reinforcing assembly is built and lowered into the hole.

Pier base and start of pier

The pier block hole is filled with cement and the 40" x 40" pier begins to grow

Full height pier

Pier blockwork is done and tops out at 12'. (View to the SSW)

Top of the pier

Next job is to make a template to hold the "L" bolts that will secure the steel pier that bolts to the top of the concrete pier
In the background is Danny, digging the hole for the foundation of the house. (View to the N)

Forms Construction

Forms for the observatory floor/foundation are constructed at the shop in Washington State. Each of the ends is marked so
they will bolt together with the correct adjoining panel, to form the 12' 2" total diameter. 5 sections of 72 each make up
the 360 floor. The forms are 34" high, but only 4" will be above grade. The rest will reach down below the frost line which is at
around 24" in this area of New Mexico

Observatory Foundation

A ditch is dug around the pier and the forms set and filled with concrete
In the background is my cell phone antenna, for better reception.

Lee Lucas

Lee Lucas of Pie Town, expert with concrete in all forms. What a score way out here.
Lee did the concrete blocks on the house and observatory pier and the concrete flat work on the observatory

Pier and Foundation

The forms are stripped off (what a job) and the foam pulled from between the pier and floor.
Visable on the top of the pier are the 5/8" bolts which will hold the "weld-to-plate" for the telescope mount.
I took this picture from on top of one of the giant piles of dirt removed to make room for the house foundation. (View to the NW)


Here I'm building the bottom plate for the walls of the observatory.
This is made up of 3 layers of 3/4" plywood glued and stapled together.
This plate will be bolted down to the floor of the foundation and the walls will be nailed to it.

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