The Star Chaserz Company has developed the mobile observatory in response to the ever increasing problem with light pollution. The mobile observatory enables amateur astronomers to take their passion to new heights and to remote dark skies. The three basic ingredients for a mobile observatory are: a suitable SUV, any of the Schmidt Cassegrain telescopes, and a Mobile AstroLlift.
The Mobile AstroLift is a patent pending electro-mechanical telescope platform designed to raise and lower a telescope with the push of a button. It is made from precisely machined aluminum, brass, and stainless steel parts. With with a flip of a switch your CCD or Video equipped Schmidt Cassegrain telescope (SCT) can be elevated up and out of your vehicle and provide a full 360 degrees of viewing. The Mobile AstroLift is made to order depending on the vehicle used and the SCT you want mounted. In fact, for those that have more than one telescope, a machined aluminum base plate adapter can be provided that allows different SCTs to be mounted on the same AstroLift.
By making a few modifications to an SUV, you can convert it into a mobile observatory. We at Star Chaserz can do this for you or instruct you on how to do it yourself. The convenience of a mobile observatory will allow you to maintain your scope set up and ready for use. Light pollution will no longer keep you and your family from enjoying the night skies!
One of the mobile observatories shown on the website is our 2004 GMC Envoy XUV. It is the “perfect vehicle” for this application since it comes with a separate rear cargo bay and a fully automatic retractable roof. It has been customized and is equipped with 3 heavy duty stabilizing jacks, a battery compartment containing two 12v DC gel batteries and charger, a DC/AC converter,a dedicated on-board computer, a 14” Meade Schmidt Cassegrain 200X GPS computerized telescope, and a HyperStar focal reducer. The HyperStar Focal reducer/field flattener replaces the Meade’s secondary mirror and “transforms” the f/10 system to a “very fast” f/2 photographic system, making it ideal to quickly image deep sky objects within a flat 2 degree field of view. The HyperStar can be coupled to a video camera, a digital single reflex camera, or a dedicated CCD Astrocamera. A 30 inch LCD monitor screen is mounted to the side of the vehicle for viewing. The telescope and its accessories are controlled wirelessly with a laptop or “game boy” type remote control. These configurations are ideal for group viewing or teaching at star parties without having to stand in line to look through an eyepiece at the top of a ladder. Instant gratification!
Even if you don’t own an Envoy, there are several SUV’s that are well suited for the job.
Starchaserz also makes a AstroSlide, a “slider” that allows the Mobile AstroLift supported SCT, to be moved in and out of the cargo bay of most SUV’s. The Hummer Mobile Observatory, also shown on the website, illustrates its use.
A mobile observatory can be a less expensive alternative to a permanent observatory or planetarium.