History of the Ash Dome

A personal reflection on how we obtained the 16-foot Ash Dome from the US Army.

Pictures of the removal of the Ash Dome from the military site.

Its role in the Apollo Moon Missions of the 60's and 70's.

The pieces and parts of the 16-foot Ash Dome were stored in one of the founding father's backyards. These visionaries later formed the Mohawk Valley Astronomical Society. The dome rested there while the MVAS grew in numbers and knowledge, and focused on educational community service.

The observatory project began with a rained out public star party on 26 Sep 1998 when a group of members ended up at McDonald's for coffee. Discussion arose about the rumor that the club had acquired an Ash Dome eleven years previously and that it was being stored in one of the founding father's backyard.  On the spot, President Allen made a phone call to Sam to see if the club's Ash Dome was still in good condition. The rest is history.

A small group met three days later in Sam's backyard to assess the condition of the dome and then went to measure the foundation at the abandoned army facility on Koenig Road in Floyd, NY, where it once stood. On 4 Oct 1998, four members dug it out of an eleven-year accumulation of leaves, dirt and mud. On 13 Oct 1998, the pieces were loaded onto a flat bed truck and moved to a barn near its new home to-be in Clinton, NY, where it received much TLC over the next calendar year.  (In 1995/6, a member had quietly offered the use of his land to build an observatory.)

After much diligence, engineering and muscle power supplied by MVAS volunteers and some of their friends, the dome was erected atop a 9-foot stave building and was furnished with a 16-inch Meade LX-200 GPS Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope.  Outside, six concrete observing pads were installed, each with electric service for computerized mounts and other equipment. The telescope was named in honor of its most generous contributors, Joel and Joan Seif. The observatory was named in honor of the role the dome played in the Apollo Moon Mission. (sequence of events)  The Apollo Observatory was formally dedicated on June 7, 2003.

Later a trailer was converted into a lending library, holding over 1,000 books, atlases, and observing guides. The observatory served as the “home base” for member stargazing events, meteor watches, a Venus transit, digital astro-photography, asteroid-hunting expeditions, and numerous other observing projects. Thanks to the large aperture of the scope and dark sky conditions, views of the night sky were spectacular. A dream had come true!

But, the MVAS still had a public dream. See the Barton-Brown Observatory.

Back to MVAS Apollo Observatory