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Dismantling and moving the HST telescope

Robert Paterson had suggested that Saturday June 26th 2010 was a good day for the HST telescope to leave his garden in Thame nr Oxford and begin the new chapter of its long life at the Chippingdale observatory in NE Hertfordshire. The distance between the 2 locations is 84 miles.

Robert’s choice turned out to be a good one, the weather was settled and it dawned a warm and sunny day.

I had borrowed a 10ft long trailer with a 2 tonne capacity from a farmer friend Andrew Gibson; this was to be towed behind my VW transporter van. In addition to this set up my brother-in-law was taking his large van and another friend and fellow astronomer Mike Atkins was taking his van too! We were you might say well prepared logistically. In addition to the bodies mentioned with their vans, Tom Moss-Davies another astronomer friend was accompanying me along with my youngest son Aubrey. Simon Kidd another astronomer friend was accompanying Mike in his van. Simon would cover not just lifting and dismantling along with the rest of us but photography too, he’s good at that kind of thing.

A new Pad for the HST

A couple of months earlier during the April Easter holidays my 2 sons Tudor & Aubrey had helped me dig out for the 10ft square observatory & scope base (3m x 3m) and then mix up 3 plus tonnes of concrete with a small mixer. We placed a sheet of steel reinforcing mesh into the concrete mid point during the ‘pour’ to bind it together. The central region of the slab that was to take out the weight was dug out to a considerably greater depth to add to the mass of concrete. The HST after all tips the scales in the region of 1 ½ tons!

Copyright© 2010

A fine day to make concrete

Tudor & Aubrey getting stuck in!

The finished job late afternoon…phew!

The job took us a whole day but the result made it worthwhile, the boys started to lose just a little interest after lunch, you just can’t get the staff these days!

Dismantling the HST

Robert is a quite meticulous fellow, he had over a period of weeks ensured that every nut and bolt that was to be undone was running free, I understand that he got through quite a bit of WD40!

With it all to do, the HST & working party
(L to R Tom, Dale, Mike, Robert & Aubrey (Simon behind the camera, Gary stuck in M25 traffic)

Robert at work with spanners

Mike takes the weight as bits come of and balance is lost

Finally the pier is toppled this section alone weighs 400lbs+

The observatory is dismantled & loaded onto the trailer

The Observatory & massive telescope were gone  (Tom looks like a hernia has just arrived!)

Symbolic passing over of the mirror, yep that is heavy too, about 80lbs with the cell

(p.s. nice hat Robert)

9pm the same day the ‘Fry’ observatory was reassembled and working at its new home

My Sincere thanks go to Dr Robert Paterson, Mike Atkins, Gary Bird, Tom Moss-Davies, Simon Kidd, Andrew Gibson & Aubrey Holt for making this move possible.

Dale Holt