By Michael Mitrano, Treasurer (Photo credits: David Skitt)
On the weekend of March 19, 2016, Gene Allen, John Delaney, Dave Skitt and I rebuilt the south gable end of the Washington Crossing Observatory’s roof. Where once there was the flap that we needed to haul up before opening the roof, you will now find a section of wall permanently fixed to the block structure of the observatory. This season, all you need to do to open the roof is unlatch the four corner turnbuckles and turn the crank.
We undertook this project to create higher roof clearance over the south telescope pier, which now holds only our special Hastings refractor. That south pier now has an excellent Paramount mount that it is capable of supporting two telescopes, just as we have two scopes mounted on the north mount. However, the south pier is taller, leaving less than an inch of clearance between the top of the mount and the gable end opening when the old flap was raised. This greatly limited the diameter of the scope
that could be mounted alongside the Hastings on the south mount.
Initially we considered replacing the flap with a larger flap, but realized that tree growth over the years has concealed the south horizon that was made visible by raising the flap. Replacing the flap with a fixed wall simplified construction and lightens the weight of the movable roof, as well as making it easier for all of our members to operate the observatory.
We will be adding ventilation to the gable and installing a brush-style sweep seal to keep light snow from blowing through the horizontal gap between the moving and fixed portions of the gable wall.
Thanks to the Board for supporting this and the construction team for making this happen. We bid goodbye to the flap and hello to new telescope possibilities on the south mount.