Update June 2-4, 2004
First Concrete

June 2: Mr. Clive Monnity of CM Landscaping holds the rebar in place while one of his very capable assistants shovels the first concrete into the pier footer form. My nickname should be “Hard Way.” Any reasonable person would have used an 18" Sonotube as a footer form; I made mine of mitered plywood, octagonal to match the shape of the observatory base—even though the pier footer will be all but invisible in the completed observatory.
Looking down into the form with just a bit of concrete in place.

Above: putting the finishing touches on the surface prior to placement of the Astro Pier mounting hardware.
Below: the Pier Mounting Hardware (three bolts and pressboard templates) in place. The weights and wedges are necessary due to minor irregularities in the form under the weight of concrete. Note the orange nylon strap clamp that keeps the sides of the form from bowing outward under the weight of the concrete.

Above: the form and vicinity on Friday, June 4. The “Caution” tape marks a trench that I had just dug to move a buried electric wire (unrelated to the observatory) deeper into the earth and to enclose the wire in pvc pipe so that a concrete observatory-entrance ramp may be built over it without damaging or encasing the wire.
Above and Below: the completed pier footer with form removed. The form was coated with petroleum jelly and came off easily. The footer is 18" across parallel sides for the first 30 inches downward (the height of the form), then it becomes circular with a diameter of about 24". There is over 40" of concrete below ground. Total weight of the pier footer is approximately 1,500 pounds. “Mr. Hard Way” says that anything worth doing is worth over-doing. Heaven help the person who tries to remove this observatory!
Below: it was not possible to smooth and dress the top of the footer because it was covered by the Astro Pier mounting hardware. I will even it out a bit with a grinder. In any case, I’m considering ways to hide the concrete in the completed observatory.
The next step is to dig the footer for the observatory base -- next week, I hope. The observatory base (and dome) will be centered on the northern pier bolt, which is the one closest to the camera in the photo below.
Below: a 3-D rendering of the concrete base. The scale of this rendering is approximate.
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Observatory Project Introduction

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