Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory
- Construction of the Observatory -

The groundbreaking ceremony was held in June 2004. Since that time, sufficient funding has been raised to allow for construction of the observatory to begin. We secured a 16 Meade LX200R Advanced Ritchey-Chretien telescope to be mounted on a Paramount ME German equatorial mount, which will be computer controlled by The Sky Professional software for accurate tracking and GOTO operation. An architect was hired to draft the plans for the new observatory and an adjacent educational center. An aluminum dome measuring 5 meters (16' 4") in diameter was ordered from Observa-DOME Laboratories, of Jackson, Mississippi - They are the world's leading manufacturer of observatory domes. The design of the observatory shields the telescope from local ambient lighting. The visual impact of the dome draws attention to the Riparian Preserve visitors and generates increased interest and usage.

  Click image to see a detailed CAD drawing of the side view of the dome.

  Click image to see a detailed CAD drawing of the top view of the dome.

Upon delivery, the dome was trucked to the paint shop. Through the generosity of Gary Hobbs the dome was given a nice coat of white aircraft enamel. Next step: assembly.

On the weekend of June 3 - 4, 2006, a group of volunteers gathered at the Riparian preserve to begin assembly of the dome. Nineteen volunteers braved 112 heat on Saturday and got most of the assembly completed. About ten people returned on Sunday to complete the assembly project. On June 5 the dome was hoisted onto the observatory structure.

The observatory was opened on October 21, 2006 for it's "First Light". Special thanks to the Town of Gilbert, Gilbert Rotary Club, Salt River Project, Win Pendleton (project manager) and the benefactors and volunteers whose hard work and determination have made this project a success.

Close-up of the observatory, awaiting its dome

Observatory and its surrounding slab

Dome assembly on Saturday morning

Dome assembly on Saturday afternoon

Assembly of the shutters on Saturday

Shutters installed on Sunday

Shutters opened

Shutters closed

Some of Saturday's volunteers

Some of Sunday's volunteers

First observation from the observatory

Dome installed on observatory