With the purchase of one of the original orange tube Celestron 8-inch SCTs in 1974, I began to get interested in deep sky observing and astrophotography. As I got more
serious about deep sky observing, it became apparent that I would have to observe from darker skies in order to find the increasingly fainter objects I was pursuing. In
1988, I began observing from a dark sky site in rural Linn County, Kansas, about an hour south of my home. In 1991, I traded the C-8 for a larger Celestron 11-inch and
continued chasing ever fainter "fuzzies". It was always my dream to have a permanent observatory. After 12 years of packing all my stuff into my SUV, and sleeping in it
after an all night observing session, I was finally successful in purchasing a 20 acre site just three miles from my old observing site. It is on a high bluff surrounded by a
wildlife refuge and has really dark skies! After checking out the observatories shown on the website http://www.obs.nineplanets.org/obs/obslist.html I decided to build a
roll-off roof design. I would especially like to thank the following Amateur Observatory Builders for the great ideas I was able to glean from their
websites: Frank Barnes, Bill Dellinges, Darin Fields and Chris Vedeler.
Lower left: On May 2nd, 2002, ground was broken for the construction of Land of Oz Observatory. Here, the first spadeful of dirt is lifted out of the
hole being dug for the concrete pier base. Center: On May 3, 2002, the concrete pier base was finished. Sixteen 80 lb. bags of concrete went into the
hole, which is 4 feet deep (would have dug deeper, but hit solid rock!). Imbedded in the concrete is a steel cage holding the 5/8"-11 all-thread. Right:
The following weekend, the 6" diameter heavy wall steel pier was installed and levelled.
After a lot of planning and hard work, construction was finished on March 15th of 2003. Another few months was required to paint and finish
the interior and install the telescopic equipment. Finally, on September 20th, 2003, LAND OF OZ OBSERVATORY was formally dedicated.
Since that time, I have really enjoyed spending every night I can observing and imaging the sky. Below is a picture of the observatory which
was taken in June of 2006. As can be seen, this location has great horizons, and the sky at night is breathtaking!
|VISIT TO MAUNA KEA OBSERVATORIES
While on a trip to Hawai'i in 2001, Rosemary and I spent some time on the Big Island, and were lucky to be able to ascend the 14,000
foot summit of Mauna Kea, an extinct volcano, and visit the domes of Mauna Kea Observatories. This is the largest installation of optical,
infra-red, and radio telescopes on the planet. More square feet of mirrors are gathering starlight here than anywhere else in the world!
The mars-like landscape of brown cinders and the stark white of the observatory domes make for a surreal sight.
Ron and Rosemary standing outside the dome of the Canada-France-Hawaii 3.6 meter
telescope. In the background, left to right: The James Clerk Maxwell 15 meter sub-millimeter
radio telescope, The Smithsonian observatories sub-millimeter rado telescope array, the
Japanese Subaru 8 meter optical telescope, the twin domes of Keck I and Keck II 10 meter
optical scopes, and (partially hidden) the NASA 3 meter infra-red telescope facility (IRTF). As
you can see, the brown cinder landscape looks like Mars!
Ron and Rosemary inside the dome of the 3.6 meter (148-inch) Canada-France-Hawaii
telescope.This beautiful telescope became operational in 1979, but because of continuing high-tech
improvements such as adaptive optics and huge prime-focus CCD cameras, it continues to be on the
leading edge of ground-based optical astronomy. The mechanical structure of this telescope is
almost identical to that of the larger 5 meter telescope on Mount Palomar in California. To learn
more about this wonderful scope, click on the link below:
This is an aerial view of the summit of Mauna Kea, looking southward towards the other extinct volcano,Mauna Loa. The
summit of Mauna Kea is 14,000 feet above sea level, and hosts the largest group of optical and sub-millimeter radio
telescopes in the world. The instruments shown in this view, from left to right are: the University of Hawai'i 24-inch (tiny
dome), The United Kingdom 3.8 meter infra-red telescope, the University of Hawai'i 2.2 meter telescope, the Gemini North 8
meter telescope, the Cal-Tech sub-millimeter radio telescope (small silver dome in valley), the James Clerk Maxwell 15 meter
sub-millimeter radio telescope, the Canada France Hawai'i 3.6 meter telescope (foreground), the Smithsonian sub-millimeter
radio telescope array (background, in valley), the Japanese Subaru 8 meter optical telescope (bottom of ridge), the twin
domes of the Keck I and Keck II 10 meter optical telescopes, and (silver dome in front of them) the NASA 3 meter infra-red
telescope facililty (IRTF). Photo courtesy of NOAO observatories.
|AN OBSERVATORY IN THE LAND OF OZ
My name is Ron Abbott. I live in Overland Park, Kansas
which is a suburb on the southwest side of the Kansas
City metro area. I have been involved with amateur
astronomy since I was in High School. After several
years of lusting for a telescope, I finally built my first, a
6-inch Newtonian with a primary mirror that I ground,
polished and figured myself. I still have that first scope,
and in fact have refurbished and modernized it. I now
use it to observe outside my observatory while my
primary instrument, a Celestron C-11 is busy doing
guided astrophotography. A picture of that first,
handmade scope is shown to the immediate right. At the
far right is a 2015 picture of an older me, alongside my
old scope, now refurbished and modernized, with my
Land of Oz Observatory in the background. My trusty old
scope has a new lease on life, and will be seeing a lot of
use in the future!
|CONSTRUCTION STARTS ON LAND OF OZ OBSERVATORY!
|THE GENESIS OF LAND OF OZ OBSERVATORY
|OBSERVING AT KITT PEAK IN 2001
JANUARY, 2001: I got the incredible opportunity to secure a two night observing run at Kitt Peak National Observatory in
Arizona, as part of their Advanced Observing Program. This gave me use of their 16-inch computerized telescope and a full
complement of Nagler eyepieces for an extensive program of visual observing of galaxies, nebulae, globular and open
clusters. For two nights I had the exclusive use of the telescope as well as the services of the program director, Adam
Block, who has since become a world-renowned astro-imager at the Mt. Lemon observatory. It was this experience with
Adam that led to my involvement in CCD imaging. Adam was a wonderful instructor, and I learned much from his guidance.
The entire experience of spending two nights on Kitt Peak was awesome. Not only observing, but also living in the
professional dormitory and eating in the dining room along with the professionals who were there. On the second night, I
got to visit the 4 meter scope and meet the astronomers who were using it. I even got to go out inside the 4 meter dome
during a break in their imaging session! The view of the Arizona night sky through the huge slit in the dome was