Just above Umpqua Community College’s campus, near the track, a new digital observatory, one that will be accessible online to homes and classrooms all over Douglas County is under construction. Please watch this page for weekly construction updates and images.
So far, more than $60,000 has been raised for the observatory, including a $20,000 grant from the Associated Students of Umpqua Community College and other financial support from the Umpqua Astronomers, a local astronomy club, Wolf Creek Job Corps, a generous anonymous donor and many local businesses.
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UCC graduate, Scott Harvey, lends his skills to give back to his community.
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When completed this summer, the observatory will be equipped with powerful telescopes and planetary imaging cameras, which will allow images to be live-streamed to UCC students, as well as to K-12 students and private citizens all over Douglas County, opening up new opportunities for learning and understanding the universe and complex scientific concepts like Dark Matter and Exoplanets.
“Students throughout Douglas County will be able to progress through unique astronomy learning modules designed both for our observatory and for Oregon’s earth and space science curriculum,” explained UCC astronomy professor Dr. Paul Morgan, who is spearheading the observatory project. “Synchronous virtual classroom experiences will engage and inspire students and private citizens to learn more about the universe we inhabit, establishing UCC as a leader in astronomy outreach in the Pacific Northwest.”
The construction of the rolling roof building is nearly completed due to generous donations of money, materials and time. Funding for the project has provided for the constructing a simple shed building, and buying telescopes, computers and cameras. However, the funds on hand are expected to provide only the basic equipment but will fall short of being fully equipped. Morgan is currently seeking grants and private donations to fund completion of the observatory, which is scheduled for summer 2016. To donate to the observatory, call the UCC Foundation at 541-440-7678, or donate online below:
Control Center set-up and camera testing continues May 20, 2016
Control software for 5 of the 6 cameras was successfully installed on 2 computers. Both Skyris cameras and both Atik cameras were tested and are ready to begin image testing when skies are clear. An observatory telephone was installed and is working. The C11 and C9.25 are operational with manual controls and supported with 5 cameras for imaging.
Work begins on the computer control center and the main telescope mount May 13, 2016
Three computers were installed and connected to the internet switch and HDMI cables. Software was beginning to be installed and HDMI connections with TV monitors working. A clear night on May 12th permitted the 1st preliminary polar alignment of the AP 1100 mount. A few test images were recorded of the moon and Jupiter.
Construction is completed and Transit of Mercury imaged--May 5, 2016
The sidewalk was poured and finished on May 5th. Previously on April 26th, the building was caulked and painted with UCC colors. Work begun on installing control center tables and pulling HDMI cables from the control center to the 3 TV monitors. An internet switch was installed and cables connected to the Tower Building switch. The roof motor bracket on the west wall was strengthened with a special stell brace made by the UCC Welding Department. It was welded in place on May 4th. Although the main scopes were not yet operational, the Lunt 100mm HA scope was set up for viewing the transit of Mercury. A few test images were taken.
Nearing the completion of construction of the roll-off roof Building--April 22, 2016
All the wiring is installed and approved by the Electrical Inspector. Exterior and interior lights have been installed. The roof motor system has been tested and limit switches installed. The Wolf Creek Job Corps stained the concrete floor. Two CCD cameras have been placed on the northwest roof track to provide images of the northeast to southeast and southwest to northwest sky. All interior trim has been installed, completing the interior finishes. The main telescope pier adapter system has been installed, leveled and oriented to Polaris. The RA and Dec axis of the Astro Physic 1100 mount have been installed, re-leveled and oriented to Polaris. The sidewalk from the Tower Building parking lot to the observatory has been formed and is ready to be poured.
UCC Board of Trustees Names Observatory-- April 13, 2016
On April 13th, the UCC Board of Trustees received a request by the ASUCC to name the UCC Observatory the Dr. Paul Morgan Observatory. Being the largest single donor, the students of UCC completed a process to select a name for the UCC Observatory. They decided to honor the college Astronomy instructor and project leader. The UCC Board of Trustees unanimously approved the student naming request.
Lots of Rain - Friday, February 5, 2016
Another slow week with lots of rain. The Wolf Creek Job Corps completed the roof motor track install as well as the west and east soffits except some trim work. Doug and Bill of the UCC Custodial crew came and power cleaned the Observatory floor. All is now ready to install the wiring and computer cables.
Slow Wet Week - Friday, January 29, 2016
A wet week slows progress. The base rock for the sidewalk was spread and packed to depth in preparation of a cement sidewalk. Some rock was also moved to provide access around the east side of the Observatory. However, the soil is too saturated to complete the placement of rock with a tractor. Working on acquiring necessary supplies to finish and paint the main telescope pier as well as build a special top plate.
We're Back! - Friday, January 22, 2016
The December torrential rains overpowered the newly installed drainage pipes and caused a slide of loose soil and grass. This unstable fill material on the south facing slope gave way after a series of violent rain storms. A temporary drain pipe was connected to the outlet pipe and placed over the slide to the drainage ditch below. This will limit the amount of water falling on the slide area. When the weather and soil conditions permit, a permanent drain will be installed.
The Wolf Creek Job Corps crew returned after Christmas break and completed the outside trim on the roof roll-out supports and the west facing roof gables. They also completed the roof truss cross bracing and started on the roof motor track system install. Only the east facing outside gable trim and some roof siding adjustments remain to complete all outside work. Work is now paused, waiting the availability of an electrician to install wiring.
Slow Down - Friday, November 27
Work slowed on the UCC Observatory this week. The Job Corps crew has begun to install a roof moving rack and pinion motor drive system. Additional supplies were gathered to complete exterior and interior roof work. Knife River donated and delivered 6 yards of crushed rock for the observatory sidewalk base. Thanksgiving holiday made the work week extra short.
Drain Rock - Monday, November 9
Progress has slowed but the perimeter drain rock was placed around the drain pipes. Douglas County Building Inspector found 2 issues in the framing. One was corrected the next day and the other will be completed this week. Wiring was laid out and is ready to be installed.
Roof - Saturday, October 24
A rainy start this week. In spite of the poor weather, the roof work continued. All the 1 X 4 roof boards were installed, eve boards attached and a tri-ply roof underlayment was attached to the trusses to provide rainproof cover for the building. Metal roofing was next installed to complete the roof top. Gable ends were covered with oriented strand board. Siding was installed on the eves and the gables were covered with 30# felt waterproofing. The walls were also covered with either tri-ply underlayment or 30# felt to complete weatherizing the exterior walls. The roll-off roof assembly was tested successfully with the roof rolled onto the roof support posts and back in place. Siding was completed on the gable ends and started on the east and west walls. The scaffolding was removed and stored. The wall and post braces were removed and the site cleaned. The observatory is now mostly ready for the winter with waterproofing in place on the walls and a watertight metal roof installed. Interior work can now begin while the exterior is finished.
Progress - Saturday, October 17
Lots of progress even with a short work week. The roof trusses were all placed on the roof caster track and secured in placed. Roof 1 X 4 boards were placed along about 60% of the roof trusses. East and west roof overhangs were framed. Additional lumber to complete the roof framing was obtained as well as a special roof underlayment called Tri-ply to prevent interior condensation. More telescope parts were ordered to complete the C11 and C9.25 telescopes. The trench area by the tower building was back bladed and is ready for winter.
Reflection - Friday, October 9
This was a quiet and reflective week at the UCC Observatory. The south track was secured and broken lag bolts on the north wall were repaired. The utility trench to the Tower Building was filled and preliminary grading done. The 4 inch drain pipe on the east end of the observatory was back filled with drain rock. Roof tie-downs were tested and adjustments will be required next week. Many computer and TV cables were ordered as well as a computer for the Xtreme Mallincam camera. Also ordered this week, were computer monitors, TV mounting brackets, an uninterruptable power supply, and anti vibration pads for the 12" RC scope. John Hooper of Good Vibrations donated a 32" and a 43" TV for the observatory. UCCSTRONG.
Building Walls - Saturday, October 3
The observatory building walls were completely covered with OSB panels. The drain pipes were placed at the correct grade and glued. The north wall roof casters were installed and the south wall casters started. The telescope mount arrived and was placed in storage.
A horrible tragedy occurred on campus when shots rang out at 10:38 a.m. PDT on October 1, 2015. Sirens echoed from the valley and hills as emergency responders poured onto campus. I and the Job Corps crew were stunned in disbelief as we gazed upon the horrific scene as we came down from the track to the main college road. An incomprehensible day that no one will ever forget.
Support Beams - Thursday, September 24
Progress continues on the roof support beams. All six beams were securely bolted in place and topped with pressure treated lumber. The end posts are now fixed with sturdy bracing so that the side braces are gone. Large panels of oriented strand board were nailed to the north and east walls as the building begins to take shape. Wall braces are now removed. The 10" refractor has been moved into a new storage site and the large shed has been removed from the east of the observatory. Perimeter drain pipe has been cut and some drain rock placed around the observatory. The steel v-grove roof track has been placed of the wall plates and the roof support top plates. More telescope parts have arrived.
Wet Week - Thursday, September 17
A wet week has slowed construction. The roof support beams at trimmed and in place. Roof trusses were constructed and delivered on site. Telescope accessories are arriving from vendors. Hopefully, better weather next week will allow work to start on construction of the roof.
East & West Walls - Thursday, September 10
Crews were busy cutting and nailing the west and east walls. Are walls are complete, raised up and attached. The west window was famed and both 16" wall sections were cross braced. The roof roll out support 6" X 6" beams are beginning installed. The 3 foot section of sidewalk that was cut by the east side of the Tower Building was poured. The sidewalk is now restored and open.
Walls - Thursday, September 3
Walls for the observatory are going up. Job Corp students are learning about framing a building. Sill plates were cut, drilled and bolted to the concrete footings. Bottom and top plates were cut and studs installed. The observatory is beginning to take shape. Also occurring this week, 2 telescopes, an AstroPhysic 1100 mount, 3 CCD cameras, 2 hyperstars and computer controlled focusers were ordered. The 88 feet of 5" steel V grove roof track was completed and delivered.
Frame & Roof Post Holes - Thursday, August 27
The building frame and roof track post holes ( 3' X 18") were filled with concrete on Monday. Also on Monday, the telescope pier block ( 4' X 3' X 3' ) was filled with several tons of concrete making an extremely rigid support for the 1100 GTO Astrophysic's mount. Tuesday, 200 feet of three 3/4" electrical conduits were glued and installed in a utility trench as well as inserted into the Tower Building's electrical room. Under slab conduits were also installed on Tuesday for electricity for telescopes, CCD cameras, and computers. Large data line conduits were placed to connect telescope cameras, focusers, TV's , and internet routers to control computers. Heavy black plastic and lots of rebar was installed for the concrete slab. The utility trenched was back filled except for a 20 foot length for conduit repairs. Douglas County Inspectors approved the electrical and mechanical aspects of the slab prior to installation. A concrete truck delivered the nearly 9 yards of concrete to fill the slab forms on Thursday. The concrete forming crew worked and finished the slab to be ready to begin constructing the walls next week.
Electricity & Fiber Optics - Thursday, August 20
Working through the 100+ F heat, the utility trench was excavated from the observatory to the Tower Building. Three conduits will carry electricity and a fiber optical cable for high speed internet. The State Electrical Inspector came and approved the work so that the construction can continue. Electrical and data conduits were placed in the pier block in preparation of a concrete pour next week. Purchase orders for telescopes, a mount, CCD cameras, and various accessories were prepared for approval. The steel track for the roof casters was fabricated.
Pouring Concrete - Thursday, August 13
The slab perimeter was formed and the (14) 4" X 6" posts were installed in the post holes. The 12" sonotube for the telescope pier was installed and braced. Wednesday night, I sighted on Polaris to locate the position of the 3 large pier bolts to true north. Today, the Wolf Creek Job Corps crew poured about a ton of concrete into the sonotube and installed the mounting bolts.
Pole Auger - Thursday, August 6
Douglas Electric crew came with a large telephone pole auger truck and dug 15 post holes for the observatory. One 6 foot hole is for the telescope pier sonotube and the rest of the 14 holes are for 4 X 6 PT posts. Now, we're ready to begin to install the telescope pier, pier block and the 8 posts in the building and 6 posts for the roof roll out track next week.
Site Excavation - Saturday, August 1
Russ Noah provided a backhoe, rock and a lot expertise to excavate the observatory site. Working in 103F heat, the site was dug and the site of the observatory slab rocked and compacted to be ready for construction.
Ground Breaking – Wednesday, July 29
A large crowd of more than 35 people braved the heat to hear about the new observatory and to celebrate the many donations from individuals and local business. The image shows the official start by tossing the first shovels of soils.
Paul Morgan - Contact
Assistant Professor, Astronomy
Ken Carloni - Contact
Chair, Associate Professor, Science