Tsiolkovsky State Museum of Cosmonautics

In spring 2021 we could finally – due to meanwhile somewhat less strict Corona rules – install a turn-key observatory (consisting of a 6.5 meter AllSky dome as well as the instruments mentioned below) at the Tsiolkovsky State Museum of Cosmonautics in Kaluga, Russia. The museum was opened in 1967 and now offers visitors the opportunity to make real astronomical observations. During the day the sun can be observed and photographed in white light or H-alpha, and during late night shows the moon, planets, bright nebulae, star clusters and the like can also be observed.

The observatory assembly was divided into two trips about 1 month apart. First, the dome itself was assembled, which presented some challenges to the dome team, as about 2 meters of snow had to be cleared first, and more unexpected rework was in store for them. But all problems were quickly mastered and the dome could be mounted according to plan.

The second team later installed the instruments and other electronics.

  • The mount is a GM 4000 HPS II from 10Micron which allows astrophotography without autoguiding thanks to encoders on both axes. It was specially modified for lowest temperatures and carries 150kg instrument weight.
  • The main instrument is a 250mm VT Fluorite refractor from the American manufacturer TEC (Telescope Engineering). The company was founded by Russian optics experts in the USA, so the instrument was the first choice for the customer. With this optics, thanks to the connected changer (IMP85 – Instrument Multiport Changer), it is possible to capture planets in the highest magnification with a video module, as well as to obtain photos of smaller deep sky with long exposure times. A frontside white light solar filter can also be automatically integrated. In addition, a visual port for guiding is available – all on one telescope!
  • The reflector, which was provided by the customer and also integrated by us into the overall system, is exclusively designed for deep sky photography of large sky areas.
  • The Baader APO 95/580 Travel Companion, which is mounted parallel to the main instrument, is used for solar observation in H-alpha light, with a filter from Solar Spectrum.

Also the assembly of this astronomical top equipment as well as later the adjustment and the alignment of the mount was an art for itself, thanks to the external circumstances. On the first evening the temperature was still "only" -20° C, on the second evening even -34°C! But everything worked despite cold fingers, the ColdTemp-optimized GM4000 HPS mount easily defied these low temperatures and our contact persons on site were very satisfied and impressed by the professional work of our whole team.

The observatory has been in regular operation since the end of May 2021. A short official customer feedback will be added here soon.

Read here the official news about the start of operation of the 6.5 M AllSky turn-key observatory (in Russian language – please use Google Translate or similar)