On 28 December 2000 (my birthday!) we broke ground for the new observatory!
Here's a shot of a 'cat, doing its thing; that's Chip Coldwell and Joe Zajac
admiring the festivities.  (click on image to get a bigger photo)

The Mirror

Here's our telescope, in its maternity ward (or maybe the womb?).  It's in the
shop of Ray Desmarais, head honcho at Stabilite Cellular Mirrors.  One layer of
the 72" primary blank is propped up against the steel framework that will hold
it in its cell.  To the right you can see the forward-raking spider that will
support the 36" secondary flat (canted at 22.5 degrees, in a "pseudo-Newtonian"
configuration).  The stack of triangular pieces at center form the structure
that connects the primary cell and secondary spider.  Still to do: fuse and
slump the primary; grind, polish, test, aluminize and overcoat both mirrors;
undercoat and paint metal parts; mount mirrors in cells and verify overall
performance of telescope; pack and ship to observatory; install and verify
final optical and mechanical specifications. (click on image to get a bigger photo)

Observatory Progress I -- Surveying

Here's a shot just before groundbreaking, when the trees were down but the
backhoe hadn't made an appearance.

Observatory Progress II -- Snagged a Wire!

We checked out the site for buried power wiring, but missed this telephone
cable.  Ouch!  But it didn't break, so we taped it up.  So far, so good.

Observatory Progress III -- Winter Arrives

We got the foundation excavated, but winter decided to interrupt the next step,
placing forms and pouring the foundation.  But, it's a pretty site!

Observatory Progress IVa -- Pouring Footings

We were pretty much hunkered down for the long freeze, but then on Feb 16, 2001,
these guys showed up, put in forms, and started pouring concrete!  Here's a shot
of the telescope pier pour.

Observatory Progress IVb -- Finished Footings

And here's a shot showing the completed footings, looking south, with the forms
removed.  They are just bristling with rebar, awaiting the foundation pour.

Observatory Progress Va -- Pouring Foundation

Four days later they put in the foundation forms and poured again; here's a shot
looking south.

Observatory Progress Vb -- Finished Foundation

And, finally, the finished foundation (looking north)!  As we write this the whole
business is covered in a few feet of fresh snow, from "the storm that could have
rivalled the great blizzard of '78" (see below).

Observatory Progress Vc -- Pouring Snow!

It snowed (again).

Observatory Progress VIa -- Floor Frame

March 20 -- Jim Mantineo (our expert and versatile contractor) appeared,
along with a pile of lumber and some steel beams, and put in this handsome
floor frame.  This view is looking north; the big hole is for the telescope
mount.  The floor joists run north-south, atop east-west beams; the pair of
beams on either side of the telescope pier rest on underlying steel I-beams.

Observatory Progress VIb -- Flooring

Same day -- plywood flooring.  Job finished.  Ready for steelwork!

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