The Cape Cod Imaging Station

Harwich, Massachusetts, USA

The Astro-Physics 130EDT Starfire, Astro-Physics 900QMD, Astro-Physics 92 Stowaway, Canon EOS 6D & ST-i autoguider
Moonlit Night
The Astro-Physics 130EDF Gran Turismo, SBIG ST-8300M, Losmandy G11

First Light
First Light for the 130EDFGT at the Cape Cod Imaging Station(CCIS)

The Location

After over 20 years of driving to dark sky sites, setting up and tearing down equipment and then driving home... sometimes over 3hrs, I finally decided that it was time to build my own observatory on my own property. Below are photos showing the construction of the observatory, which I have named the 'Cape Cod Imaging Station' or CCIS. Ground was broken in early May 2008 and first light was achieved on October 17, 2008!

The observatory is located in the town of Harwich, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. Harwich is 75 miles southeast of Boston and offers fairly dark skies for astroimaging and observing. On clear dry moonless nights the overhead limiting visual magnitude (LVM) is around 6.2. The summer and winter Milky Way can clearly been seen arching across the sky. M31 is a easy naked eye object and M33 is even visible to the eye on very transparent nights. Also, being only a few miles from the ocean, the seeing can be quite good at times, especially in the summer and fall.

A night image taken from the Space Shuttle showing the location of the CCIS in relation to the towns and cities of New England.


The Construction

After discussing the advantages and disadvantages of roll-off vs. dome designs with my fellow astroimaging friends. I decided to go with a 10'x10' roll-off. It enables me to still have that feeling of being under the stars while also blending in with the surrounding neighborhood.

A majority of the structure, except for the pier base, floor joists/footings and cedar shingle install was built by a local Cape contractor from construction plans offered by Scott Horstman of "Backyard Observatories" in Ohio.

Ground is broken and the four corner 6x6 footings have been set.

My father Dave and I begin mixing the concrete for the footings and pier base

The massive pier base and templates bolts have been poured. The pier base uses 1200 lbs of concrete.....That's a lot of hand mixed concrete! :-)

Dave and Chris pose for a shot after a long day's work.

The 2"x8" floor joists are in place and ready for the plywood.

Another view of the floor joists

The local lumber supply store delivers the materials!!

The contractor arrives with all the cool tools!

Nate and Steve get to work on the floor and walls.

One wall up!!

Walls are up and its begining to take shape... exciting!

Nate and Steve start setting the 4"x6" support posts for the roll-off track.

Inside the observatory showing the pier base. There's about a 2" gap between the floor and the base so no vibrations are transfered to the telescope.

Nate and Steve working on the roller assembly.

Nate and Steve busy working.

The 2"x6" roof rafters being installed.

Construction continues

Details of the roof rafters.

More rafter detail along with the gable vent installed.

Finishing up the installation of the roof rafters.

Steve telling Nate he cut the rafter too short..... ;-')

Detail showing the west wall, gable vent and track support posts.

A finished roof! An architectural roofing shingle was installed to match the roof design on the house.

White cedar shingles installed on the west wall. This will give the observatory that classic Cape look.

Tyvek home wrap was used on the walls to minimize moisture penetration.

Eastern exposure showing the door and cedar shingles installed.

Southern exposure showing the cedar shingles installed and roll-off track support beams and posts.

Southwest exposure showing the cedar shingles installed and roll-off track support beams and posts painted to match the house trim.

Chris doing some final sanding. Roof retracted back 50%.

Finished with painted trim.

Northern exposure showing finished trim etc.

All done!

First snowfall of the season... December 2008.

All text and photos are © Copyright Chris Cook

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