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Proposal: Astronomical Observatories

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Astronomical observatories, defined as a permanent structure housing one or more astronomical telescope(s). (No tent structures or temporary sites, which are typically uncovered to the elements).


Large or small, public or private.


Daylight photo only, along with one photo of GPSr.


Also, possibly permit sites used for organized (i.e. club sponsored) Star Parties, though this could possibly be another waymark of its own.

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Hmmm. :lol: no takers, eh? I thought it was a neat idea, so I'll bump this and add a little more information.


Perhaps this will help Kitt Peak Observatory. These observatories are often on top of mountains, located away from light pollution, and many have tours allowing public access.


I don't want to exclude private observatories, though, if folks are willing to identify them.


The waymark could collect information such as # of telescopes, type of telescopes, size of telescopes, purpose if known, for research sites it'd be neat to know what the research goal might be. Links to observatory's web site, if one's available, and possibly a link to an image gallery of pictures taken by the observatory.

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There should be some interest in your category, even though there are only a limited amount of them to log.


There are five or six I can think of in Arizona. My guess is there are ~50 research observatories in the USA. If folks want to log club observatories and private observatories, there could be many thousands of these.


We may have two subcategories appearing here, one for research observatories, and one for club / private observatories.

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Back in Australia I did a stint in the University observatory whilst the Professor was away at a conference. My speciality was radio astronomy.


You p;anning on subdividing the category or just include all observatories?


Off the top of my head, I can think of about a dozen "real" telescopic observatories, some public, a couple of military and some public - and not just some guy with a scope in his back yard. Although one guy who lived near me had a decent scope, wrote a novice book and I think has discovered a comet.


I'd support the category, but think you may need a little more definition in order to exclude Joe Citizen who has a Walmart $39 special.

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I bounced around the idea of subcategories, but it was suggested Variables be used instead.


I'm now thinking of a variable "Research Observatory? (y/n)", a variable for "visual / radio", and a set of variables TBD to further define the club, private, commercial (astronomy B&B's, for example) and historic observatories. Are there other types to identify? I'll put this together as a set of "y/n/unknown" radio button variables so the submission is easier.


Here are my thoughts on the criteria for entries:


- must be a permanent facility. No observing tents. A permanent mount for the telescope is required, mimimally a pier for the telescope. Not sure if we should require some form of movable overhead structure but I'm inclined to say yes. That seems to reinforce the "permanence" component.


I'd not call my backyard setup an "observatory" for example. But someone who's an avid astrophotographer (there are quite a few in my neck of the world) and has spent the time to build a dedicated personal permanent observatory should be able to log it if they want to share that with the world on this site.


Any other thoughts?



On a related note, there are pros and cons to having a category for public star party sites... Lots of clubs have special permits to use those sites, even if they're on "public" land, and are careful to maintain them for use by their club, so I don't want to include those in this category.

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I really liked the locationless geocache with astronomical observatories - it was on my watch list and I liked to see all the new ones geocachers found. My questions is whether you want to restrict it to working facilites or would one no longer used be OK. Maybe another bit of info to fill out for each waymark?

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Here's what I have so far:


As mentioned before, the observatory must be a permanent site. May be an active observatory or a retired observatory.


"Please obtain permission of the owner" for private observatories...


In addition to the mandatory information (GPS coordinates, short description, long description), I'm asking for the following variables (and a photo of the site, preferably taken by the contributor):


1) Observatory Purpose { Research, Private }

2) Optical / Infrared Telescopes? { Yes, No }

3) Radio Telescopes? { Yes, No }

4) Solar Telescopes? { Yes, No }

5) Open to the Public? { Yes, No }

6) Is this a Club Observatory? { Yes, No }

7) Public Viewing Allowed? { Yes, No }

8) Active Observatory { Active, Retired }

9) Number of Telescopes or Antennas { Drop down list with ranges }

10) Site URL { text field for URL }

11) Year Dedicated or Opened { numeric }

12) Altitude { numeric, in feet }


Am I missing something you'd like to see? Since these sites are ususally secluded, I stayed away from addresses and the like. I'm keeping the variables rather simple so the private observatories won't feel that an entry is intrusive. A lot of information could be available through the URL, as well.

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This last one:

12) Altitude { numeric, in feet }

May be the USA Americans (and the British and airplane pilots) know how much height 3000 feet is but a large part of humanity uses the metric system with meters and has no idea.

It is the same with gallons, barrels, pints, inches, yards, pence, Fahrenheit: all locally used measures.

So I propose: keep it international.

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I'd thought that might raise some eyebrows... ;)


Since this is a scientific category (sort of), I'll change it to meters. Would be nice if there were a locale based setting in the users' profiles, with a hook into the variables. But I'll bet there are more important features to work into the site, first.



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