Altair Skyshed 8" Observatory Pier with anti-vibration fins
The Altair SkyShed Pier is a revolutionary design - the only pier which can be adjusted in rotation and levelling after installation. These unique features make it the best selling professional pier in the UK and North America, and probably of all-time.
The easy installation process as well as free UK courier mainland delivery make the Altair SkyShed pier a compelling choice for any observatory or free-standing telescope project.
The Altair SkyShed Pier is made from rock solid 6mm thick powder coated steel, and is 32 inches in height excluding the pier cap, which adds another 4-6 inches depending on the position of the tilt adjusting bolts. Total height including the pier top is therefore 36-38".
The original SkyShed pier is the only pier on the market which can be adjusted in tilt and 360 degree rotation after installation and tightening down the base bolts. This means you can install the pier, put your decking in place (please click on the large image to the left to see pictures) and then adjust the pier afterwards to suit your mount. This design is the easiest to install and use on the market, period. No other product comes close in ease-of installation. The unique design is the brainchild of Wayne Parker of SkyShed, the worlds most prolific observatory manufacturer, and is often purchased with the SkyShed POD or roll-off observatories. The product is manufactured in the UK by Altair Astro with SkyShed's permission, with a combination of structural and ergonomic features distinguishing this product from other telescope piers, for customers who expect the best.
Infinitely adjustable and rigid: The large 320mm steel baseplate is welded to an 8" diameter steel centre-column. Four large "fins" are welded to both the baseplate, and the centre-column, reducing flex and vibration to undetectable levels. This pier will easily carry mount/telescope combinations around 120kg in weight. The pier top-plate can be easily levelled with four (yes four!) 16mm (2/3") diameter solid steel threaded rods positioned at each corner. Once you have threaded your cables through the provided centre holes, simply level and tighten the pier cap down. Perfect levelling helps GOTO accuracy, and to eliminate polar field rotation relative to the horizon. The pier-top can be rotated 350 degrees, making the process of pointing your mount due North to get perfect polar alignment quick and easy. Once pointing North, the pier cap is locked down with four 12mm bolts.
Attaching your mount: The Altair SkyShed pier cap has a variety of holes to accept most Meade Wedges, as well as the Skywatcher EQ8 mount directly. For mounts requiring a countersunk hole, the Altair Multi Mount Pier Adapter (which supports most popular Chinese mounts), can be fastened in place with the provided bolts. Celestron AVX, Paramount MX and special extra smooth EQ8 Pier Adapters are also available. You aren't constrained to one type of mount, because the top plate is large and flat, so you can attach pretty much anything to the Altair SkyShed Pier. For more adapter info, see the respective product pages.
Levelling and rotation is important for good GOTO and easier, more accurate polar alignment: All major mount manufacturers recommend setting up an Equatorial or Alt Azimuth mount as level as possible, and aligned to the North/South axis. Without accurate levelling Equatorial Mounts are difficult to polar align and often suffer from GOTO accuracy and other balance issues. This not only reduces the quality of your long exposure imaging and GOTO accuracy, it can even cause problems with planetary imaging and, say lunar mosaics. This is why all major mount manufacturers recommend starting polar alignment process with levelling first. The only way to ensure your mount is perfectly level is with the four 16mm thick steel threaded adjustment rods, which allow small incremental adjustments with a spanner once your scope is mounted. When the pier-cap is tightened down, the levelling rods keep the pier top perfectly level, even when tested with our 16" RC on an EQ8 mount adding up to well over 100kg total weight. Now your mount is well balanced causing negligible torque. Don't fall for cheaper designs which don't allow rotation or rely on "shims" (basically washers) for accurate levelling. It is not possible to perfectly level anything with shims because they have a set thickness and it would be a very lengthy process. The reason these designs are cheaper is because shortcuts have been used to reduce fabrication and coating costs. When you get that dream rolloff observatory or dome built, or make your own, this is the only solution to get 100% right designed by astronomers. We have replaced many piers from 3rd parties which have suffered various problems from corrosion, to a frustrating inability to level or rotate them in Azimuth.
Download Print Altair SkyShed 8" Steel Pier installation instructions here (opens new window)
Precision materials and zinc coating for longevity: No other pier comes close in material and anti-corrosion coating quality. The pier components are laser cut from steel plate, then the base plate and anti-flex fins are welded to the 8" diameter steel column on a jig for perfect alignment. This results in a pier which is as light as possible for ease of installation, while remaining extremely rigid. The piers are then sand blasted to prepare the surface, then flame-sprayed with zinc. At the time of writing, no other pier product has this expensive coating process, which is better than galvanizing, and is often used for industrial and military marine applications where a professional finish is required. Once the flame spraying process is complete, the piers are placed in an industrial oven and powder coated with Matte Black RAL9000. This creates an extremely tough coating which not only creates a perfect finish to the product, but also protects it against knocks and wear and tear. Even if you manage to chip the powder coating, the zinc undercoat prevents corrosion. This two layer coating technology is far superior to painting processes, and provides the ultimate in durability lasting many years.
What comes in the box? The pier assembly and all bolts and nuts for the pier-head are included. Your choice of either straight or L-bolts and nuts are included for fixing the pier down to a new or existing surface.
How do I attach my telescope to the pier head? The pier is pre-drilled with 6x holes which fit our CNC machined aluminium Pier adapters for the iOptron iEQ45, Celestron CG5, Skywatcher EQ5, HEQ5, EQ6 German equatorial mounts (see the related products below). Installing a mount and adapter takes a few minutes - all the stainless steel bolts and nuts are provided to attach it. You can also easily drill the 13" diameter top plate with a normal drill with metal drill bit to accommodate your Meade or Celestron Wedge or a Losmandy Pier adapter - in fact any mount can be easily adapted to fit. Finally, you can bolt certain mounts directly to the top plate without an adapter or the need to drill holes - such as some Meade LX200 fork mounts and Astro Physics mounts with a 6 hole pattern. Here's our EQ8 Pier adapter ready to accept the mount head:
- Can be adjusted in levelling and rotation AFTER installation saving time and effort.
- 8 inches in diameter adjustable in height from 36-38 inches (optimum size range for small or large SCT's, or long refractors on an EQ mount).
- All steel construction throughout for extreme rigidity, yet relatively light weight.
Powder coated laser-cut steel for a crisp finish. (Another first).
Flame sprayed zinc undercoat for a better finish than galvanised, and marine spec durability.
- Large, flat 13" Dia baseplate, for easy access to the base bolts, with four perimeter fins.
- 4x massive 16mm bolts support the top pier plate each cable of supporting well over a ton in compression on their own.
- Pre-drilled for classic Meade and Celestron Fork mounts.
Adapters available for most mounts (see compatibility list below).
(Search for "pier adapter EQ6" for example).
- Suitable for up to 16" Cassegrains and heavy duty mounts. (Call for larger custom sizes).
- Hole in base and cap for neater hidden power cables.
- Perfect for any observatory, including the Skyshed POD.
- Can be filled with sand (in bags) to dampen vibration even further.
We provide "L-bolts" if you're pouring concrete, or "straight" bolts, enabling you to drill holes in an existing surface - such as a concrete pad. Just let us know which you prefer.
- Can be shortened easily if needed - just cut the top off the tube with a bandsaw or plasma cutter. Your local metal shop or even garage can do it in minutes. Alternatively, place a special order with us.
- L-Bolts or straight bolts included. Your choice.
- Usually in stock in standard length.
- A crisp, tough high quality powdercoated finish, with neat welds, which will last many, many years.
- The SkyShed/Altair pier is not only the worlds, it's the UK's best selling pier design, ever. Over 14 years in production, much imitated, never equalled.
- iOptron CEM60 & CEM60-EC (requires PAD-MULTI adapter)
- iOptron iEQ45 (requires PAD-MULTI adapter)
- Skywatcher EQ6 & Celestron CGEM (requires PAD-MULTI adapter)
- Skywatcher EQ8 (recommend PAD-EQ8 adapter)*
- Skywatcher/Celestron HEQ5, EQ5, CG5 (requires PAD-MULTI adapter)
- Paramount MX (recommend PAD-PMX adapter)*
- Paramount My-T (requires PAD-PMX adapter)
- 10 Micron GM1000 (requires PAD-EQ8 adapter)
- Celestron AXV (requires PAD-AVX adapter)
* For visual observing with the 8" Adjustable Steel Pier, it is possible to fit the EQ8 and Paramount MX Directly to the pier top and secure the bolts with nuts on the underside, however the machined aluminium PAD-EQ8 and PAD-PMX Pier adapters provide a much smoother surface for easier polar alignment.
|Dig a hole about 3 feet deep and at least 15"x15" width or larger, to match your base-template. We recommend making a "former" around the top to contain the concrete and keep things neat. This can be square or round - just make sure the edges are level and pack in the earth at the sides to hold it in place. Now's the time to throw some old and clean, non-organic rubble into the hole.||Screw the bolts into the base-template and point the L sections inwards. Do a "test fit" as above before you pour the concrete. Make sure the bolts are firmly mounted, and stand upright. Leave about 2" or more of the bolt protruding through the base-template.|
|Pour in the concrete, then flip the template over, and gently press it into the concrete until the template sits flush with the edges of the former. Leave it for a day or so, until the concrete sets hard.||Build decking around the pier block ensuring it doesn't touch the former (you can leave the former in), then finish off the decking so that you have a removable section in case you want to unbolt and move the pier in the future.|
Author: M Battersby
Very nicely made pier with extremely strong construction. Very easy to install - it took an afternoon to pour the concrete and dig a hole. This is made imaging with my 10" Newtonian easy. Much more stable than a tripod and could be used as a ships capstan yet weighs surprisingly little. You can adjust it after bolting it down, and if I move home I can easily take it with me. I started with just a pier in my garden and a cover over my scope but now considering building a shed getting a POD with decking. Well done for making this guys and happy I bought it.
Author: Richard Farnsworth
We installed our pier in the paddock about 50 yards from the house, and this is an absolutely ideal position for a good horizon and away from our neighbour's lights.
Installation was trouble-free, and the concrete had completely set within a day. We use a small leisure battery for power at the moment, and I may have a mains supply cable added if we build a wooden deck around the pier in the future as recommended by Ian at Altair.
My wife and I have already enjoyed several evenings observing Saturn, and if the weather's good we just leave our large Newtonian on the pier with a cover.
We've invited friends over to enjoy the moon and of course having everything ready made it easy. Overall this is a solid and well constructed product, and I doubt it can be improved upon. If I may suggest, a tray for an eyepiece box would be a nice accessory. Most farm machinery isn't as well finished and protected, so I have no doubt this pier will last a lifetime.
Thanks to Altair for a reasonable price, good quality workmanship and a quick dispatch. Richard and Ann Farnsworth.
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- Io Astronomy Please note: IO Astronomy voluntarily ceased trading with large unpaid debts affecting the entire UK astronomy industry. You may contact us for problems / issues with Altair or iOptron products ONLY - or try Darkframe Optics / Dave Woods. Unfortunately, we will not be able to support undeclared products bought from the ex-directors after the company ceased trading.
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