Advanced Telescope Supplies

Australia's Premier CCD and Astro-Imaging Experts


Sirius Observatories.

Peninsular fibreglass have been manufacturing their superb, marine grade, weather proof fibreglass Astronomical observatories and domes for around two decades. In that time the range and features of this excellent product has been refined with complete Dome automation now being available.

 

If you are serious about Astronomy, you probably have made a considerable investment in an excellent telescope. Owning your own observatory gives you more time to use your telescope.

Even in marginal weather you can observe with the comfort of knowing you can close the dome in few seconds should rain seem likely. Inside a dome your telescope is protected from wind buffeting allowing more accurate tracking and higher precision astrophotography compared to a roll-off roof. Your telescope is also shielded from annoying street and outdoor floodlighting, allowing you to observe in comfort.

 

A Sirius Observatory is the ultimate personal observatory. Larger models are ideal for school or professional applications. The domes can be motorised and ordered with optional storage locker wall panels which provide additional storage space within the dome for computers etc. without reducing the floor space within the dome. Assembly is a simple two person job, using simple hand tools. All instructions are provided.

 

Each Sirius dome has the following features:


 

There are three models to choose from:

 

The Sirius 2.3 Metre

The 2.3 Metre Observatory is an ideal housing for up to 14" SCT and 12.5" RC Optical telescopes. Its beautiful white high-gloss finish will retain its look and value for many years. 

 

The main dimensions are as pictured at left. 

 

The dome aperture is 0.6 metres

 

Price Approx $A8940 (price will vary with options and shipping, please call for a quote)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

The Sirius 3.5 Metre

 

The 3.5 metre dome will easily house up to a 24" aperture telescope and still leave plenty of room to move around the observatory. It is an ideal choice for Schools or Universities requiring a purpose built structure that is quick and easily installed, and requires little maintenance.

 

The main dimensions are pictured at left

 

The Dome aperture is 1.0 metre.

 

Price Approx $A17,900 (price will vary with options and shipping, please call for a quote)

 

School Users and Educators Please Note:

Advanced Telescope Supplies can supply and install complete observatory systems that will allow students to access a school telescope at night from the safety of their own homes via the Internet. Please call or email us for details on these systems.

 

 

 


 

Sirius also manufacture a 6.7 metre dome. This is a truly professional class installation. Please call or e-mail us for further details.


MaxDome II System (Now available!)

Unlike many competing dome automation systems, that simply "bump" a dome via a simple infrared sensor/transmitter MaxDome is designed to continuously work in concert with your computerized telescope. The image right is linked to an animation that shows the movement of the dome in concert with the telescope. 

The ATS MaxDome system requires either ASCOM compatibility Software Bisques AutomaDome software module for The Sky. When the software is installed, you simply click on an object not only does the telescope position to that object, so does the observing aperture of your Sirius Dome, automatically, without any further user input.

 

Introduction

The MaxDome controller system provides complete automated control of a telescope dome and associated shutter. For lower-cost installations, rotation-only operation is also supported.

MaxDome has the following features:

 

Rotation

The Controller Card connects directly to a Windows-based Personal Computer via an RS-232 link. The MaxDome driver in the computer handles all communications to the controller board.

 The controller card directly controls a motor driver board, which turns on the motor in either the forward or backwards direction.  

The Motor Sensor counts rotations of the motor shaft; this is used to detect when the dome has rotated to the correct position. One side of the shaft is colored black, the other is reflective metal. The sensor is optical, and is able to count twice per rotation. This is sufficient to position the dome very accurately.

In order to set the dome to a specific azimuth, a home sensor must be installed.  The home sensor is a simple magnetic switch similar to those used in home burglar alarms. Whenever the home position sensor is detected, the dome position is reset to the user-supplied azimuth value.

Shutter

A second Controller Card is installed on the dome itself for controlling the shutter motors. Sirius domes have an upper and lower shutter, and therefore two motors.  The motors are sequenced one after the other, to ensure that the shutters do not mechanically interfere with each other. The motors are turned on for a pre-determined time which is long enough to ensure that the shutter fully opens/closes.  

Two magnetic sensors are provided; these should be positioned to switch when the each shutter is fully closed. These switches provide the "shutter closed" indication in the software on the PC. If after the shutters are operated both switches are not engaged, a "shutter error" indication appears.  

The link between the two controller cards is via radio. Once every 10 seconds a message is passed between the two cards. Normally this message is simply a "poll" to determine the shutter status. When a command is sent by the PC, the message sends a command to open/close the shutter.

Software Bisque's AutomaDome module for TheSky or the supplied ASCOM software can be configured to allow for all mount/telescope offsets and geometries. 

This solution is not trivial !!   In some cases the dome aperture may need to orient to the east, when in fact the telescope is pointing at an object high in the west! 

Pictured above are  the Geometry parameter screens that allow for the radius of the dome, observer latitude plus telescope and mount positions within the dome itself. The result is a simple point an click, the software does the rest!

The ATS MaxDome system still gives users the ability to position the dome manually from within the dome, plus control their Sirius observatory via a remote computer or even via the internet.

 

The MaxDome system is specifically designed for the entire range of Sirius Astronomical Observatories, and will contol the  2.3 metre, 3.5 metre and 6.7 metre models. 

NOTE: MaxDome uses a standard Serial RS232 interface, and will work with any ASCOM controllable telescope or Software Bisque’s AutomaDome Software plus The Sky software.

Users with any brand of telescope that can be controlled remotely by The Sky or ASCOM software (e.g. Celestron, Meade, Losmandy/Gemini, Bisque, Takahashi, Pentax, Showa, AstroPhysics etc. ) can slew their telescope to an object, and the MaxDome interface will command the dome’s observing slit to follow the telescope. As long as TheSky  or ASCOM can control your telescope the point and click interface will seamlessly integrated with the dome control.

The orientation of the dome aperture is determined by an optical sensor which counts the shaft rotations of the Sirius dome drive motor. A drive gear runs around the circumference of the dome, The 12VDC drive motor is cogged thus guaranteeing no slippage of the system. 

 A magnetic “Home” position sensor (pictured below/right) allows the dome to be parked at a fixed orientation. 

Software Bisque's AutomaDome software also works in conjunction with Software Bisques Orchestrate software. This allows the telescope and dome to be synchronised automatically, during an observing run that can cover hundreds of objects across the entire sky. 

Alternatively the telescope position can be automatically checked periodically (for example, once every 30 seconds) allowing the dome to be re-positioned via a (supplied) Visual Basic Script. This allows the dome to track the telescope for many hours without further user intervention.

Once The ATS Audodome system is linked to the Bisque's AutomaDome software users are presented with a graphical picture of where the dome aperture is positioned on TheSky display (pictured below). 

As the telescope is moved, so does the rectangular dome aperture symbol. The dome aperture can also be positioned remotely and independently of the telescope. 

While remote shutter operation is supported for Sirius 3.5 metre and 6.7 metre Sirius Domes, users of fully remote Observatory installations should be aware of the need to also:

  • Remotely boot the Host Computer

  • Start all the required application software, and establish communications links to the host PC

  • To start-up and shut down the telescope drive from a remote location.

  • Remotely focus the telescope

  • Start up and shut down the CCD camera and cooler

  • Ensure no cables etc. become caught or snagged

  • Remotely orient self guiding CCD cameras for guide star acquisition

  • Monitor the weather at the Dome site  (!) 

While the Maxdome system does have some shutdown safeguards, users are advised that they use the MaxDome system remotely at their own risk. The system does not monitor for sudden rain or storms, mechanical failures etc. Advanced Telescope Supplies strongly recommends an alternative safeguard system is employed by remote users.

 

MaxDome II specifications

 

Power                                    

12VDC 0.75 amp

Computer Interface

RS232, 9600 Baud

Supplied Software

Dome calibration software. (Software Bisque's The Sky and AutomaDome also recommended and is priced separately).

Supported Domes

Sirius Observatories 2.3 metre, 3.5 metre and 6.7 metre

Home sensor

Magnetic reed switch.

Azimuth accuracy

Better than 0.25 of a degree

Price

Dome only $A2360 inc GST 

Dome plus Shutter  $A3480 inc GST

Includes PCB interface(s), RS232 cable, motor shaft sensor, ASCOM and calibration software, VB scripts and hardware mounting kit.

ATS MaxDome can also be fitted to new Sirius domes at the factory.

 

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