The construction of the Fisher Observatory

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In early 2012, I posted this thought I had regarding space and my love for astronomy:

“So, here’s a cool thing: There are currently sixteen robots (spacecraft) roaming our solar system and sending back data. Imagine in your mind, zooming back from the solar system with a bird’s eye view looking down and seeing the little ‘blips of light’ from each one. All, gathering data, sending back radio waves full of information to the ‘hub’ (Earth), making new discoveries and exploring places for us, until the day we finally venture out there. They’re probes. They’re ‘Magellan.’ They’re the first seafarers venturing into the unknown – but in three dimensions! I just thought of this: actually try to imagine them as seafarers. Imagine “sailing” on one of those ships… then look down… Holy cow! It’s infinite in every direction! Kind-of gives you vertigo huh?  -I’m building an observatory. I have to… even if it’s just a junky wooden box. -It’ll be my backyard church. A place to meditate. And the glow from my computer screen of images of island galaxies millions of light years away will be my scripture.”

Needless to say, I REALLY like astronomy. (And here’s a post about why I love stargazing.)

Not long after that post, I mentioned something to my dad about building a small shed in my backyard in which my wife could store her gardening tools and I could keep my telescopes, saving me from lugging them in and out of the house every time I wanted to do a little stargazing. Little did I know, my passion and my dad’s expertise and ambition would launch a full-fledged construction undertaking leading to a legitimate astronomical observatory any professional astronomer would drool over. September 30th 2012, that dream became a reality. We officially finished the construction of the Fisher Observatory.

I would just like to take this opportunity to thank my dad, Jeffrey Fisher Sr. No words could come close to describing my appreciation to him. He truly gave me a gift of a lifetime, one of which I could never repay. My respect for him is unparalleled. He has – and has always been – without a doubt, my hero. Even though we both worked on this project together, make no mistake that all credit goes to my father who instills a sense of awe and wonder in practically everyone he meets because of his generosity, brilliance, and above all, humbleness. Ask anyone who knows him, they’ll tell you the same.

I cannot think of one reason why I would deserve this gift and I am completely dumbstruck every time I look out back from my house and see the brilliant white dome glowing off in the distance. I still can’t believe we did it. Every time I step into it, it’s honestly a magical experience for me, one of which I know will never get old.

To an uninterested third party, this project may understandably seem like a huge waste of time, or compared to other human achievements, this may seem trivial; but the impact it’s had on my life is immeasurable. Not only did we create something which I hope will be passed down to future generations giving others the opportunity to experience the awe and wonder that is the universe in which we live – I also have the memories from the summer of 2012 which I spent with my dad that will last a lifetime and more. Those very memories were the greatest gift of all.

Others have seemed to really enjoy the project as well. I recently posted the image gallery of the construction process to a website called Reddit where it received an uncommon amount of praise. In addition to the countless positive comments on Reddit‘s website itself, the image gallery has received well over a quarter of a million views! I have even made a friend who lives on the west coast who I met through this posting that is contributing his time and effort by creating a new website for the Observatory, asking for nothing in return, purely from the goodness of his heart. If that doesn’t restore your faith in humanity, I don’t know what will.

I would also like to personally thank all my friends and family, especially my wife, for putting up with all the noise and sawdust and my absence for the past couple months. We couldn’t have done it without your support as well.

I want everyone to know that you are more than welcome to stop by and check out the observatory whenever you like; I love sharing science with whoever will listen! After all, it’s YOUR universe, we just built the window.

I love you dad, and thank you.
-Jeffrey Jr.


7 Comments Comment

  • Adrian on 2013-01-13

    What a great experience this must have been. I’m sort of jealous of your observatory! :) Good Job man!

  • Alexander on 2013-09-14

    Outstanding work! Very impressive. I really enjoyed the photos thanks.

  • Tim French on 2014-01-17

    Looks good; I am doing the same as yourself and trying to follow your photos and “Incredibly tidy, well thought out blueprints!!!!” Sorry, I’m a Brit, now in BC, that’s Canada; us Brits have a strange sense of humour.
    Great that you had such a fab experience building it with your dad. My concept/mission I guess comes from my background. Degree in Astronomy and Physics from UCL college in London. Go to http://www.ulo.ucl.ac.uk and see the scopes I used to work on!
    But that was 33 years ago and last year I got back into the hobby with a lot to learn. GOTO in those days was a phrase out of “Monopoly”. We had to calculate where the star or Nebula was, collect the photographic plate in its sealed carrier, then put it into the photo plate holder, take the exposure, sometimes two or three hours with manual guiding corrections – though the drive was incredibly accurate and built to a different standard than nowadays- then develop plate etc.
    I teach/taught High School Math and Science but off sick these past 6 years so I intend to offer my observatory, when built – I have dug the hole for the pier! – as a resource for the school district so I can show small groups of kids, many from special needs backgrounds, just what an awesome Universe we have. I was impacted by the Apollo moon landings to pursue Astronomy and that look and feeling of awe and wonder is so incredible to see on kids faces as they look down big scopes at, say the Moon, for the first time.

    Oh.my question. The circular base for the dome. I see you use three quarter inch ply, cut into arcs then built up in brick like fashion. Great idea and I have spent the last few hours drawing scale models of 4×8 feet plywood panels to see how many arcs I can get on by doing all the calculations! Lot of work eh? SO, DID YOU HAVE JUST TWO LAYERS OVERLAPPING, OR WAS IT THREE?
    Sorry to blabber; I ramble on a bit!
    Are there anymore descriptions of your project? Anyway, I’ll go now and will send you some pictures as we progress…….but don’t hold your breath, I work slow!

    Great again

    Regards
    Tim French

  • Bill Gray on 2014-04-17

    This is a fantastic project. Can someone please tell me what material is used for the dome skin?

    Thanks, Bill Gray

  • Joe Hedges on 2014-06-07

    Amazing. Love this project! So jealous.

  • Robin on 2015-07-13

    Beautifully done. Thanks for providing so much detail and sharing so much enthusiasm.

  • Deanna Richards on 2016-03-16

    This is so amazing! Who does this????!!!


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