20/05/2009 : The ground where the observatory is to be sited has been prepared and the hole for the foundations has been dug. 2 tons of stones were to be delivered on Monday and would levelled in readiness for the concrete on Friday.
25/05/2009: The concrete was been laid to a good 5 to 6 inches in depth and the next day work began on drilling holes to bolt the walls of the observatory to the concrete base. As the drill was battery powered, and could only manage a few holes at a time before needing a re-charge, drilling continued the following few days.
30/07/2009: The walls were secured to the base and sealed. Mike returned to the site over the next few weeks between bouts of bad weather to make minor adjustments and do odd jobs. He also managed to get the wheels set and greased ready for the dome.
23/08/2009: After a few weeks of inclement weather, Phil, Ken and Mike returned attempted to raise the domed roof.
"We decided that we should just take the chance to get down to SCRI whenever a likely day turned up and on Friday morning (21st August) Mike phoned me with the idea of getting the dome in place. His idea was to set a few planks of wood across the base and lift the two dome sections onto them to be joined. This worked although the moderate breeze threatened to blow away one of the parts before we had them secured together. Next we fitted the wheels and then the test was to withdraw the planks of wood and lower the wheels and guides onto the aluminium rim. IT WORKED!! - and with a gentle push, the dome rotated! It was a cleaner session for the workers as we didn't have to use so much black sealant as on previous visits so our hair, arms and clothing were not (for a change) covered in this black sticky mess! I feel that we now have an observatory - not yet complete but it looks the part." - Ken. Unfortunately there are no photographs of the labourers covered in grease!
December 2009 and beyond: The telescope is finally installed on a substantiol pier, more work is needed to the motor and mechanics, but cold weather is proving a great hindrance. In February of 2010 some good photo's of Mars were taken but there is a problem rotating the dome and more work is required to resolve this before a grand opening.
19/06/2010: At last we were able to hold an opening ceremony and Janet MacKenzie cut the ceremonial tape. We were very fortunate on 19th June as the weather was excellent and with the help of staff from SCRI we were able provide light refreshments after the opening. As the weather was fine we were also able to use the portable solar telescope to allow those attending to safely view the sun.
The event was well attended with friends and family of Mrs Mackenzie, DAS members and SCRI staff, friends and family.
Our thanks go to the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI), now the James Hutton Institute, for the land and for their help in getting this project under way.
As the original observatory suffered during the re-build it has not worked as well as expected, so in consultation with the James Hutton Institute the Society decided that it should be removed and a new one built to take advantage of the available space. As The build proceeded a larger telescope was offered and replaced the original which has been put in use elsewhere. Particular thanks go to The Institute for their co-operation and Andy who constructed the new observatory from his own design. Below is a movie of the new observatory which shall retain it's original name of "The Sandy MacKenzie Observatory"
Click image for slideshow
The Sandy MacKenzie Observatory