Indian Hill - Creating the Telescope Pier

Updated January 13, 2002

By the end of 1978, we purchased a 16 inch telescope from Art Stokes, an amateur astronomer from Hudson, Ohio. It was put into storage as we were busy preparing the observatory site. Since the telescope is huge, it requires a large mount to hold its weight. We decided to pour a concrete pier to hold the massive weight. This would require digging a hole at least 3-4 feet deep and 3-4 feet wide.

Being a bit too eager to get this project going, we started digging a hole in 1979, but abandoned that effort after realizing that we first had to level the hill with a bulldozer before any major construction work could begin.

Mike Sills and Bob Petti digging the first pier.

Bob Petti and Dan Rehner cover the first pier to keep the rain out, while Dan Rothstein supervises.

So, after leveling the hilltop and burying the first pier, we decided to use posts as support for the building walls. Dan Rothstein uses a post-hole digger to dig one of the supporting posts. This contraption was also used to dig the new pier.

We then got smart and rented a gas-powered post-hole digger. However, the spark plug was bad, so we lost 2 hours running to the store to buy a replacement.

Several CVAS members prepare a form that will be used to shape the concrete pier that will be poured in the following weeks.

Cover that hole again to keep the rain out.

We estimate there is over 6,000 pounds of rock, sand and concrete that went into construction of the pier. The concrete was mixed and poured by hand. Doug Caprette dumps a load of concrete into the form.

Dan Rothstein adjusts a reinforcing bar before another load of concrete is dumped in. In the background, Doug Caprette mixes the concrete by hand.

After pouring the bottom portion, the form is then constructed around the top of the pier. This will prepare it for the next level of concrete that will form the 41 degree angle it must have to conform to our latitude.

The completed pier inspected by Norm Oberle (left) and Roy Anderson (right) during a local astronomy convention. Norm was a well-known amateur astronomer and telescope builder in the area.
Both Norm and Roy were longtime members of the
Cuyahoga Astronomical Association. Norm was honored for his outstanding contribution to
amateur astronomy at the October 1996 Hidden Hollow astronomy convention.

After finishing the pier, we dropped the post-hole idea and decided to construct a full foundation for our building.


Special Photos:
October 30, 2003 Aurora