Alentejo Remote Observatory

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Construction of the observatory

Construction of the observatory began in October 2019. The implantation and then the realization of the studs to anchor the structure, as well as those of the columns was thus carried out, in a first stage.

It is Stéphane’s turn to build the structure of the Observatory. After much discussion, it was decided to assemble it in mechanically welded construction, with height-adjustable legs to overcome the differences in ground level. The spans in the width and length direction have a standard pitch. This means that you can extend the length of each bay by two or four telescopes at will. Francis makes the plans and Stéphane, outside of his working time, makes the structure.

Early March 2020.

After loading at Stéphane’s place with a trucker from the José region, he meets us as planned two days later, at the entrance of the access road to the site. We had anticipated the unloading with Andy the owner of the land. He had called his neighbors to handle by hand, then to transport the whole thing on the 4 kilometers of road with a tractor and an old vehicle.

Stéphane is due to join us the first weekend (06/03/20), with his little family to finalize the assembly of the structure. So before his arrival, we have to finish the foundations of the last two columns and the solar panels, then pre-assemble the structure.

Stéphane joined us as planned: we are finalizing the assembly of the structure and the trusses as well as the solar panel supports.

Francis and Jean-Luc are now alone from 09/03/20, for the last three weeks. The rest of the editing is consequent and we start talking about Covid 19 in France. So we start with the 100mm Styrodur insulation and sheet metal. In the meantime we realize the electrical installation via solar panels and batteries.

After finishing the technical room, we finish the installation of the solar panels. Jean-Luc is working on the electrical installation.

Then we finish the observatory: we assemble the 4 columns before the assembly of the periphery, then we finish the “walls”. It is now difficult to get supplies: the material stores are starting to close. The administrative procedures are difficult (Bank, Insurance, Internet…). The news from France and Spain that we have to cross are not good.

We learn, after trying several times to reach the French embassy, that the borders will be closed for Covid 19 on Monday March 30th, that is in two days. We realize that we have to go back as soon as possible, otherwise we risk being stuck in Portugal for a long time. So we will not be able to finish and use our Set Up: one hour before departure we were in the process of cabling, so we are leaving reluctantly. The livebox will arrive on Monday, we’re back in France on Sunday evening. The crossing of Spain is heavy. The borders will be closed in Spain on Monday.

We return in October to finish the installation: finishing the OSB floor, locating the cables for the electrical cabinets, starting the Set-Up, installing the last surveillance cameras and fencing the entire periphery of the observatory.

We take the opportunity to install a Synology NAS backup server with double hard disks, in addition to the Dropbox. It has also been installed Internet Satellite, which is much more powerful than the 4G. We no longer have latency and a data transfer without comparison with 4G.

The sky being the limit, we can shoot in automatic almost without interruption.

We settle the last administrative details (bank and insurance) and it’s back.