Dome lighting is an important safety element when operating the 36".
Most of the in-dome (not on the telescope) lighting is controlled from
the desk console (Figure 1). Having the appropriate amount of
lighting on in the dome greatly affects viewing for both the
astronomers and public as well as safety. Lighting that is available
- Tomb, exit and under floor lights - Figure 2 (switch panel) and Figure 4
- Dome lights (white lights high on the dome walls) - Figure 3
- Wall lights (red lights just above standing height on the mezzanine level) - Figure 4
- White desk lights (white lights just above the desk controls) - Figure 5
- Red desk lights (red lights in the same fixture as the white desk lights) - Figure 6
- South floor lights (red lights at pier spiral stairway) - Figure 7
- Balcony floor lights (red puck lights at the edge of the balcony floor - Figures 4 and 8 and stair lights - Figure 4)
- Outside stair way lights (red) - Figure 9 (switch panel)
Figure 1: Desk lighting controls
Each of the above mentioned lights (except the tomb et al. and
outside stairway lights) are controlled by a toggle switch from the
control desk pictured in Figure 1. The lights are labeled
and most also have on/off positions indicated. The tomb lights are now
labeled and are controlled by the light switch panel near the door on
the right hand side (looking out). The left switch turns on one set of
under floor lights, the middle switch turns a different set of under
floor lights, and the right switch turns on red exit lights and the
tomb light. The outside stair lights are controlled by a single
switch at the bottom of the outside stairway.
Figure 2: Light switch plate for exit, tomb, and under floor lights. A second
set of these switches is by the upstairs door inside the dome.
Recommended Lighting Levels
This is determined completely by the type of observations
required. Typically, no lights will be on and all window shutters
closed to eliminate stray light in the dome. No guests are usually
allowed due to safety reasons in this case.
Public events and tours
The default lighting choice is: the red wall lights, balcony floor
lights, south floor lamps, red desk lamp, tomb and exit sign lights,
and outside stairway red light. Sometimes you may want the white desk
lamp, particularly if you have information on the object being viewed
through the telescope available for the public to read. You may also
want the underfloor lights on if you want to highlight the mechanical
structure of the floor. Modifications to this lighting option are
Public tours first entering the dome
When the public first enters the dome all of the lighting should be
on. It is sometimes desirable (for dramatic effect) to keep the white
dome lights off during tours until all of the attendees are seated.
If this approach is used the host astronomer needs to guide people
along the mezzanine with a flashlight and make sure the public knows
that there is a drop-off and that the railing will not prevent a fall.
During public events, the white lights are usually off, requiring docents to
escort the public when they enter the dome for safety.
The moon is too bright for the public to look at without having some
white light on. Preferably the white dome lights will be on, but just
the white light of the desk is also an option. If only the desk light
is on and you will be looking at other objects be sure to recommend
that they look with their non-dominant eye so that they can use their
dominant eye for the other objects.
Saturn and Jupiter can be viewed with the white desk lamp on. Mars,
Venus and bright binary stars can also be viewed with the white desk
Medium Brightness Objects
Medium bright objects should be viewed with the red desk lamp on.
Visitors eyes should be adapted to the darkness at this point and
shouldn't notice the white light missing. Objects considered medium
brightness could include clusters, dimmer planets, bright planetary
Dim objects can be view with the red desk lamp on but it is often
desirable to turn it off. The shade over the first floor door should
also be pulled and the tomb/under floor lights should also be turned
off. Objects in this category include dim nebulae, galaxies, faint
Figure 3: Dome lights (white)
Figure 4: Wall lights (red), balcony floor lights, exit light, and stair lights
Figure 5: Desk lighting (white).
Figure 6: Desk lighting (red)
Figure 7: South floor lights
Figure 8: Mezzanine (balcony) floor lighting (red)
Figure 9: Outside stair lights (red)