PrimaLuceLab Team installed a custom version of the DUAL-COMPACT Observatory Station in H-FARM (Italy), Europe’s largest innovation and education campus! DUAL-COMPACT is the Observatory Station with dome and dual telescope designed to provide an affordable solution for remote space exploration, astrophotography and astronomy education. The version designed for H-FARM uses a ScopeDome Clamshell 3M dome and a SkyWatcher AZ-EQ6 mount that supports dual telescope: a Celestron EdgeHD 9.25″ and a SkyWatcher ESPRIT 100 ED. In this article you can watch the installation video and read details about the telescope design and main features.
H-FARM wanted to have a telescope specifically designed for astronomy education, and with the possibility to be used to point and track artificial satellites in Earth orbit, like the International Space Station. For this application we developed a personalized solution based on the DUAL-COMPACT design, to be installed in front of H-FARM Library and with the possibility to remotely control it. The DUAL-COMPACT Observatory Station design has been chosen to provide an easy to use solution based on Alt-Azi mount with ARCO rotators to automatically derotate the field of view and with the Clamshell 3M dome that, when opened, allows a full view of the sky and allows the telescope to quickly slew not only to astronomical objects but also to satellites.
After testing phase in PrimaLuceLab headquarters, the PrimaLuceLab Installation Team delivered all the telescope parts to H-FARM campus where a specially designed concrete base has been prepared at the installation location. Then we started the installation with the dome and a special C120 central pier that has been manufactured in order to have the telescopes at the correct height above the ground (in order to avoid obstruction because of the dome when telescopes are pointed towards the horizon). Another pier installed outside of the dome supports an external camera and a weather station that are used for remote control of the Observatory Station.
The SkyWatcher AZ-EQ6 computerized mount is set in Alt-Azi mode and it supports two telescopes in parallel: a Celestron EdgeHD 9.25″ provided with ESATTO 2″ focuser, ARCO 2″ rotator and QHY5III USB 3.0 color camera and a SkyWatcher ESPRIT 100 ED apochromatic refractor provided with ESATTO 3″ focuser, ARCO 3″ rotator and a QHY268C cooled camera. This way the DUAL-COMPACT Observatory Station provides 2 imaging systems: one with a narrow FoV and optimised for planetary imaging; the other one with a wider FoV optimised for deep-sky object imaging.
The DUAL-COMPACT Observatory Station is remotely controlled and powered with the EAGLE advanced control unit where we installed PLAY astrophotography software. This way the operator can remotely open/close dome and telescopes (that are provided with GIOTTO smart flat field generators and ALTO telescope cover motors) and start remote control. Thanks to the EAGLE, H-FARM can now see the picture in real time even in the large screen of the Library that makes the DUAL-COMPACT Observatory Station the perfect tool for remote space exploration and astronomy education.