Hello, Welcome to the website of Lee Cole . I can be reached at PleasantRidgeObservatories@gmail.com
The restoration on the 20 inch f5 Newtonian Sollee telescope is finished for the most part . The star testing results are
unbelievable. Many of the former design problems have been solved and lots of new whistles and bells have been added.This
should make viewing much more convenient. In addition to the scope transformation the photometer has also been modifed
and has its own deticated lap top for recording data. The ccd camera currently being used is a Mintron-62V1N fed to a flat
screen plasma for casual viewing and imaging is recorded throught the my pc and stored in a external hard drive.
The software for planning observing sessions I use is Stellarium ,it can be down loaded at http://www.stellarium.org/
for Free. The program I use for color Imaging is GIMP it can be downloaded free at www.gimp.org . The GIMP program cannot
handle FITS files effectively ,so to produce a color image you need to saving them in TIFF or JPEG files in DS9 or Iris .The ds9.
solfware can be downloaded from http://hea-www.harvard.edu/RD/ds9/ .The best part of DS9 is the Blinking object area of the
program .Blinking diferent images helps identifiy supernovae,asteroids,and other objects in movement across the sky or that vary in brightness.
The scope is currently mounted on a heavy steel plate with casters on it in my studio while it awaits the restoration of the 5.0 Meter Observa-Dome ,see it at www.observa-dome.com The primary objective of this web site is to post photos of the construction prossess of the 5.0 meter dome. The dome like the telescope had set unused for some 20+ years ,many of
the parts are badly rusted or missing . I have srarted the restoration process on the metal parts and will post the progress
on this site as they are avalable.
For sometime I have looked for other scopes like this one and have found a link to these photos . They are scattered about in
several file groups at . http://al-paslow.smugmug.com/ The construction of the foundation is concrete floor with block wall filled
with concrete and rebar steel. The door is steel on steel frame for added security. The thought was to go green on power and I have run power out to the dome from my house. The batterys from the solar panels are stored in our basement and also power the Ham Radio station. The dome site is located in the back field behind my home In Arlingtion Tn.
I do several star partys (FREE) for Scouts and schools and home schoolers ect. I love hearing the response from someone that has never looked at the Sun or the stars in a telescope.
This is a link to one of the events : http://www.memphisastro.org/news.htm
These are some Scouts looking at the Sun for the first time . I built a mount that has two scopes on it ,the gold telescope is a
Coronado PST 40mm H-alpha scope http://www.coronadofilters.com/ The other scope is a Meade spotting scope with a glass solar filter on it .This gives you two views of the Sun ,the PST shows prominences,sunspots,filaments and flares while the Meade highlites Sun spots clearly. http://www.meade.com/
I also own several other scopes I take out for my star partys , a nexstar 8 inch http://www.celestron.com/c2/index.php and a home made 10 inch dob http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dobsonian is shown in the last photo .
I also enjoy building telescopes, metal art , ham radio and reading and teaching anyone who wants to learn.
One of the many cubscouts from pack 452 .
The lower photo is two of my good friends Bill Wilson blue shirt,
and Mark Thomas ,brown shirt
They helped me with the large group of scouts looking at the Sun in our solar scopes.
This is two of my scopes set up for a star party , we had about 60 to have a look that night.
I am currently making Braille photos in sheet copper for a art show to allow
the blind to see what I see in my telescopes. This all came about when
I was haveing one of my many public starpartys that I do each year. There was a blind
girl that was not able to understand what was being viewed and it has bothered
me for over a year now. Last week however It suddenly came to me how to make
this work and I have taken some of my Deep Sky Astronomy photos and converted them into raised
bumps in the copper . These are two photos of how I have made them ,I plan on making lots of Braille photo
for many of the my nightly favor Nebulas and Galaxy and clusters .There is a book for the Blind called
"Touch the Universe" By NASA it has 14 Braille photos in it . I will post times and location for the show if
anyone would like to attent.
These are two of the first sample Braille images I worked on ,in my studio the machine is a gravermax and these are some of the hand tools I am using on this project.
This is a rough sample of what I am making ,I will post more photos as proceed.
Wow it works , she thinks it feels like a spinning pinwheel , gotta get busy making more.
This is a M51 Image that I have color
proccessed with GIMP and DS9.
These are powerful tools and fun to
of Comet 17P Holmes ,it is typical of the view
seen on the live feed from the scope shown
on the flat screen plasma.
This is a shot of the GEM 20' f5 with new paint and new parts in my studio, note the finder scope is a C-8 riding on top ,there is also a green laser finder near the eyepiece to keep ladder climbing to a minimum.
These photo's are of the very rusty iron frame and dented aluminum shell parts of the 5 meter dome as they were when I received them . Several parts are missing or broken,
I am currently sandblasting and painting each piece and making a new motor drive
system to open and close the shutter door and also rotate the dome from a desktop.
The Rainwater Observatory Project
The lifting straps were too long they had , so I loaned them two harbor freight tool tow
Thats me with the tan coat very glad to see the dome installed after its move from
the mountain in Colorado.
The photo is my 10 inch Dob at Mid-south Star Gaze 08 with the Ash dome in the background .
I built the Iron stair railing inside and help install the dome at www.RainwaterObservatory.org last year. It's taken over a year to get the rebuilt scope back from the engineers at www.LCOGT.net and boy was it worth the wait. The scope is awesome a true work of engineering .
My favorite author and radio astronomer Dr.Gerrit Verschuur and
his wife Dr. Joan Schmelz are shown standing next to the new scope.
Thats me standing behind my railing with the stainless comet and copper sun.
Side view of the scope.
Wayne Rosing had a image of M51 in the screen that would blow your socks off.
It has really inspired me to get busy on restoring the 5 meter dome at the Pleasant Ridge Observatory.
This is me trenching some 350 feet from the house to the observatory site. Power and
data conduit is shown lower right . I made a plywood template for the telescope base
for proper alignment with the north star. The NOAA site has a great zip code finder that
will calculate your longitude ,latitude and declination.
Wow the rust is gone and the bent rails are pounded out with a torch and
hammer .The new paint makes these iron lower mounting rings look like new.
The top photos are how you get wire in the plastic pipe from point A to point B .
You tie a string to a mouse (made from foam) and have a friend (David) stick a
shop vac in the plastic pipe . Once the string is through tie a rope to the end and
pull the rope through .Then the fun begins ,grease up the wire or data cable and
pull it through. I have buried two different plastic pipes ,one for data and one for
power .The data wire will allow me to send live video from the ccd camera in the scope
to this web site in the future . http://lundie.ca/fwink/
With the grass removed and the corn crop in the back ground it reminds me of that Mel
Gibson movie "Signs". I keep looking for Mel and the cast to stick there heads out of
the corn .
To dig a 4 foot deep 2 foot round hole in the center I made a extention (silver) for my
gas power post hole machine. I just made several holes and clean out the left over
This is me sweating in the 100 plus degree sun thinking about Mel and the cast.
I now plan on working at night laying out the foundation due to the heat . I will update
as I progress.
The 5 re-bar stakes were driven in the dirt to give me a idea where the center of the 16 foot foundation is ,they will be removed when the hole is dug. The machine worked
like a champ. Five holes were drilled and I wiggled the drill around and it broke up
the soil around the holes.
I used a hand post hole digger to remove the loose soil and place in wheel barrels to
remove from the site.
I filled six, 6 cubic foot wheel barrel with dirt from the hole.
Dad gum , I STRUCK GOLD!!!!
Every kid loves playing in the dirt even me.
This is a drawing of how the polar axis should line up with the Observa-DOME
slitframe opening . When designing the isolated pad in the center of the dome to
set the GEM 20 on I have also designed a four bolt 8 inch steel pier to be place under
the base of the GEM 20 .This will allow for possible future up -grade of a new or different telescope.
This is what the dome looks like new , a beautiful all aluminum construction ,its like
looking at a fine piece of metal art. My dome has been painted white some 20 years ago and I plan on stripping that paint to allow the beauty of the aluminum to be seen.
The outside supporting walls of the observatory will be covered with Arkansas field stone to futher enhance the over all look of the structure.
I drilled out the future telescope pier for the 3/4 inch studs. Two templates were
made one for holding the rebar sub-structure and one for future use.The pier was used
to keep the bolts lined up while I welded the rebar sub-structure together.
This is the finished rebar that will provide a strong structure in the concrete.
The form will be pointed North-South by compass and checked at night with the North
star. Then concrete will be added for the isolated pier . The isolated pier is to keep
the vibrations away from the scope that walking around in the dome can cause. It is a must when photographing with a camera on the telescope ,with such a powerful scope any movement will ruin the image. The blue tape is to keep concrete off the threads of
the studs while I am dumping wheelbarrels full of concrete.
Setting up the North - South line with two stakes one in front of the scope and the other behind the scope, the string is stretched between the stakes. You can see the green laser pointer light on the north stake.The north star came in and out of view as cloud cover took over , but with the help of my friend Dr. Bill Busler we "GOTERDUNN".
The 8in Nexstar and the green laser made it easy to lay out the line.
Be sure to read My Brief Career as a Rocket Scientist very funny story.
Mixing 4000 psi concrete.
Virbrating the concrete in the 5 foot hole helps increase its strength.
Finishing the wet concrete with a float.
This is a shot of the concrete vibrater and the finished pier . You want the concrete
to cure slow, so I wet it down most of the day to keep from drying out in the sun to fast
I also covered with wet hay to help keep it wet over night.
Power blasting the dome with 4000 psi is a wet job .
The dome shutters have 2 holes that will have to be patched before installing.
Each section of the eight that make up the dome have damage from bullet holes to
broken welds to aluminum rot. So I now have a week to fix each section. I have
several friends from The River Bluff Forge Council coming to help assemble the
dome Saturday so I need to start fixing them fast ,
so I have 3 of my best men on it (me ,myself and I)
The link to RBFC is: http://rbfcmemphis.com/new.htm
They are a support club for the The National Ornamental Metal Museum the only institution in the United States devoted exclusively to the preservation and promotion of fine metalwork. http://metalmuseum.americommerce.com/
If you come to Memphis you have got to plan a day at the Museum , The Museum library collection contains over 6,000 books and portfolios on metalwork, over 10,000 slides and photographs, and numerous videotapes. And sports the best view
of the Mississippi River you will ever see ,and has some of the coolest metal art
in the world. If you want some art to take home ,it is for sale in the gift shop.
Buy it now @ The Metal Museum
metal art by Lee Cole and I approved this message !
This is one of several bent sections that must be fixed before assembly.
The Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory has done a wonderful job at
building a 5 meter Observa-Dome there construction page has some great ideas.
I just love the look of the block wall they made to support the
dome . The dome really looks great painted white and the block wall would
keep bullets from hitting the telescope .
(remember we are in the South,lots of guns+beer and not enough street signs)
Blasting each section.
Drilling out the damage rivets.
Getting the assembly joint flange surface bent back
where it needs to be.
The hemispherical section require better than 1/16 inch alignment so
especially high tec tools were used for this adjustment.
This is the worse section and auto body tools were
used to hammer bend and shape it back to life.
Lots of vise-grips and lots of new rivets I lost count after 700 .
The air power riveter is a time saver I bought 2 of these at Harbor Freight tools
each is set for different size rivets.
Bullet holes are planshed closed with a hammer and spoon.
The spoon is curved to the shape of the inside of the dome and the hammer
will force the metal back where it came from . Once the hole is closed shut then
a little calking is added to keep out water.
This is the worst finished section all better now and bullet hole free .
Every single section had to have work done on it.
Calking all the seams .
In the true spirit of the Beijing Olympic Games ,I got the hat and
I'm going for the men's riveting marathon! Or I might just have lunch
at Red Sun Buffet.
Thanks to my good friends Victor ,David ,Charles,Mark and Ray for
helping me with the assembly of the dome. We first laid out the iron
lower ring and bolted it together with a air Impact tool.
The top of each steel splice was measured using my construction level
and wood shims were placed under the ring to make it level.
The first section is raised and bolted.
If it won't fit get a bigger hammer.
Like a big puzzle each piece forms a hemisphere.
More sections and more bolts.
Wow 27 years its been since it was together.
This is the last section and it fits like a glove.
We have finished for the day.Thanks guys I could not have done it without you!!
Next up is: paint dome ,dig footing ,build form ,concrete floor,build block wall,steel
Special thanks to Mary Cole "Mom",for taking photo's while we build the observatory.
I gave a talk at the MAS a local astronomy club ,to try to drum up some intrest in
I think I will get start on the foundation tomorrow.
Using a string tied to the screw in the center of the pad I marked the edge of
the foundation by following the circle. I also marked the line with orange paint .
When on a backhoe it is hard to see where you are and EZ to dig in the wrong place
Thanks to my good friend Steve for diging the footing that will hold up the wall
and floor of the observatory . Next is building the circle form to hold the concrete
in place . Renforcement wire ,rebar , plastic, ect. lots of hard work to get it ready
before the concrete truck can come.