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The UCCI Dr. William Hrudey Observatory


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Slideshows (Free Downloads)

The following slideshows have been provided by the UCCI Observatory/Dr. Wm. (Bill) Hrudey and are available for download (free of charge) for personal viewing:

Slideshow - Amateur Telescope Making
Amateur Telescope Making (PPT Slideshow, 13 MB)
This slideshow features a history of telescopes, as well as useful information for amateur telescope makers.

Slideshow - A Potpourri of Solar Images
A Potpourri of Solar Images (PPT Slideshow, 33 MB)
This slideshow features Solar Images taken at the University College of the Cayman Islands with the Lunt 60 H1a PT solar scope.


About the Facility

Located at the NE corner of the UCCI Campus adjacent to a forest preserve, the facility consists of a 20 x 40 foot building of which one half is a Classroom and the other the elevated Observing deck. A powered roll-off roof covers the Observing deck and in the open position, provides a good segment of the sky. The classroom is air-conditioned and provides seating and desks for 18 students. A ceiling mounted high resolution LCD projector projects images from the observing deck telescopes to a screen.

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History of the Observatory

Though opened in February of 2012, the observatory concept dates back to 1954 in Edmonton, Alberta where Dr. Wm. (Bill) Hrudey was part of a group of young teens with an interest in Science and, Astronomy in particular. This group of 10-12 teens were fortunate in having an association with the University of Alberta's Observatory and professors who mentored and encouraged them. In time, the teens were operating the 12 inch Newtonian reflector telescope, constructed by Cyril G. Wates, and conducting regular Star Nights for the general public. What is key is the fact that of the handful of teens, 7 Ph.D.'s, 2 M.Sc.'s and one M.D. resulted several years later. The message is that, if young minds are inspired and encouraged, worthwhile academic results follow.

Following a successful medical career, Dr. Hrudey retired to the Cayman Islands in 1997 and wanting to contribute to the Island, designed and constructed a 12.5" Newtonian reflector telescope which he offered to donate to UCCI in 2010. Roy Bodden, UCCI's President, was delighted with the offer and, the UCCI Board of Governors were totally supportive as well. A planning committee was formed and funds were raised through a variety of corporate entities and service clubs. Finally, in September 2011, Phoenix Construction broke ground and by the end of the year, the Observatory building was completed. The Telescope was lowered by crane in mid-January of 2012 and, the Observatory officially opened in February.

   

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Equipment

Roll-off Roof: Though a dome was considered for the Observatory building, a roll-of roof was far more practical and allowed for being secured during hurricanes. The motor mechanism includes a 1 horse motor with coaxial drums for opening and closing. To allow for cable slack, a weighted tension arm resolves this issue. The cable is Dynema yachting braid with a rated breaking strength of 5000 lbs. Limit switches prevent the roof from exceeding design range. Sixteen four inch V grove ball bearing rollers rated at 800 lbs. each ride in steel tracks on either side. In the photos, note the motor mechanism, the rollers and cable and, the hurricane straps in their open position. Each strap bolted into the concrete wall mates via turnbuckle with an equivalent member bolted to the 2 x 6 studs of the roof assembly.

 

Modification to Roll-off Roof Mechanism: Though the earlier roof roll-off mechanism worked adequately, it was not fool-proof. Thus, a new version was designed and fabricated in Bill's workshop utilizing the "endless winch" concept. Further details will be available one it is installed and functional.

Scopes: The main scope is a 12.5 inch f/4.8 Newtonian reflector designed and built by Dr. Hrudey. A split ring equatorial design was used allowing for stability. This scope is equipped with StellarCat drive, ArgoNavis guidance and remote focusing. Cables are all coursed below the floor to the computer on the adjacent counter.

 

This scope also has a Bahtinov mask for focusing and a Baader solar film filter for monochrome solar viewing. A "Name the Telescope" contest was held during our STEM Carib 2012 Conference and the winning entry was "Pixie twinkle".

YouTube video of the scope

Meade LX200 GPS 10": This scope was donated by a local benefactor and will be a very useful addition although it is in need of some repairs and adjustment. A special base had to be fabricated to keep the total height below the roof tracks.

   

Lunt 60 H1a PT single stack: This wonderful solar scope was purchased just prior to the June 5, 2012 Transit of Venus. It was subsequently equipped with an iOptron pro equatorial mount and is used regularly to capture solar images (see PowerPoint under Images)) and for demonstrations with student tours. During the TOV viewing, which was organized by the Cayman Islands Astronomical Society in conjunction with UCCI, almost 1000 people attended.

 

Six inch Dobsonian: This very portable and effective scope served as the prototype for a course in Amateur Telescope Making taught by Dr. Hrudey in January of 2013 resulting in 5 more scopes. Though demand exists to repeat the course, the preparation of parts by the lecturer was so time consuming as to make it impractical for the time being.

 

MallinCam Extreme video: This remarkable video device and associated software can be used on any of the Observatory scopes. Some image processing can be done on screen in real time and, resulting images can be directed to the Classroom LCD projector. Its main shortcoming is low resolution but acceptable images can be obtained. Images can also be uploaded in real time to Night Skies Network, a site well worth checking out.

   

Celestron NexImage5: Wanting more resolution for solar viewing with the Lunt 60, this practical and reasonably priced CMOS camera was purchased and found to be quiet adequate for the cost involved. All of the solar images in the early Image section were captured with this device.

   

Miscellaneous: We purchased the RSpec transmission diffraction grating in a 1.25 inch mount complete with excellent software but, have yet to try it out – many other rather steep learning curves to overcome.

Software: Several software packages are used routinely as follows:

 

Image capture:

  • MallinCam Control
  • iCap 2.2 from Celestron
  • Debut Video Capture from NCH

Stacking:

  • Registax 6
  • Avistack 2

Photo editing: 

  • Paint Shop pro 7
  • Deep Sky Imaging

Misc:

  • Stellarium
 

Update October 2013:

Two additional items were added to the inventory which vastly improve the quality of solar imaging. They include:

A Lunt double stack etalon filter

   

and, a DMK41 CCD camera which is far superior to the former NexImage5 CMOS camera.

   

Solar images obtained with this combination are notable for improved detail and ease of capture.

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Programs

In association with Chris Cooke and Richard McLeod of the Cayman Islands Astronomical Society, introductory evening Astronomy Courses were held during 2013. It is hoped that interest will continue and more advanced courses are being planned. A PowerPoint presentation used in the ATM course will be posted here shortly. School tours are regularly conducted for students of all ages when requested. Contact Dr. Hrudey for availability at: whrudey@candw.ky.

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Images

Over time, images are being collected for study and fine tuning of the systems.

The following PowerPoint presentation of recent solar images is available for download (free of charge) for personal viewing:

Slideshow - A Potpourri of Solar Images
A Potpourri of Solar Images (PPT Slideshow, 33 MB)
This slideshow features Solar Images taken at the University College of the Cayman Islands with the Lunt 60 H1a PT solar scope

 

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