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Home Mounts & Tripods Tripods & Piers Piers Altair Astro Observatory Pier
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. Please email us for a combined price if you are considering a mount, optical tube and this pier.AdjustabilityThe Altair pier is fully adjustable for level before and after installation with the included top plate with four large diameter 16mm threads, all designed to be rock solid and control vibration - this feature is essential. Polar alignment requires the mount to be levelled, if you buy an older type non adjustable pier you simply cannot do this important part of your mount setup. (your mount manual will show this step is required) Would you buy an Equatorial mount with a non adjustable tripod? Do equatorial mounts incorporate a bubble level?An observatory pier is a big investment and requires careful planning, please consider the above before buying. Altair piers include the bolt kit in a choice of straight or L bolts at no extra cost.Robust designThe 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.The Altair Pier is a revolutionary design. It's made of rock solid 6mm thick matt black powder coated steel, and is 36 inches in height excluding the pier cap which adds some additional height depending on the position of the tilt adjusting bolts. Fitting a mount to the PierThe top plate as supplied is multi holed to suite the EQ8 or some EQ wedges, the optional CNC multi mount adapter can be added from the dropdown list to fit the following list of mountsAltair Sabre mount iOptron CEM60, CEM40, GEM45 & iEQ45 Mounts Skywatcher EQ6 & EQ6-R EQ6 (AKA Orion Atlas) Skywatcher HEQ5 & EQ5 Skywatcher EQ3-2 Celestron CGEM Celestron CGEM-DX Celestron CG-5 & CG-4 Generic Chinese EQ5 mounts such as "Astro-5 EQ" mount Meade LXD75 (due to mount model variations, please email us to confirm dimensions) Several Vixen mounts (due to mount variations, please email us to confirm dimensions)Special orderThese piers are normally available at very short notice (14 days - often quicker), please contact us as due to the size and weight delivery prices can vary depending on location.
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 low cost insured 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 36 inches in height excluding the pier cap, which adds some height depending on the position of the tilt adjusting bolts. Total height including the pier top is therefore 36-38".Product overview: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 placeand 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.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.Zinc Flame Spraying and powder coating are done by Mastercote in Norwich.Why get an Altair SkyShed pier? It's ultra-stable, and you don't have to keep re-aligning your telescope mount every time you use it. It can be conveniently moved if you move observing locations, and it's a must-have if you have an observatory, creating loads of space around the telescope - no more bumping into tripod legs in the dark, and causing wasted sub-frames during a good imaging run. Of course you don't need an observatory to have a pier many customers erect their pier on decking or a surface in the garden and leave their mounts on it with a cover. The four steel pier fins have holes at the tops enabling you to hook a cover on with bungee cords. Why the Altair SkyShed Pier design? It's the easiest pier to install, period, and the special adjustable pier-head saves you set-up time. Pier levelling and rotation can be adjusted AFTER installation on the base! This is the most innovative pier on the market, and the first to sport this feature. It's for customers who appreciate a good quality finish, and a nicely made product due to laser cut steel, and a beautiful matte "automative grade" powder coated finish. Our piers are grit blasted before coating too. No spraypaint over unblasted steel, no single coat of DIY-quality "rust resistant" paint which will chip off and corrode, and no amatuer welding. This product is professionally built to last. What's the benefit of post-installation adjustment? The pier head can be locked in any position, at any time. That means there's no need for perfect North alignment of the base bolts, and even if you get the base levelling slightly wrong, you can still ensure your mount is perfectly upright and aligned North/South. That means you don't have to be a DIY expert to install it and there is no need for "shims" under the base to level it! You can also lower and raise the pier head by about 6" by adjusting the 4x 16mm bolts around the perimeter.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 to I fasten the pier to a new poured-concrete surface?If you're going to pour your own concrete, we suggest using a wooden template for the base and L-bolts and nuts. Simply cut a piece of wood to the same dimensions as the concrete you're pouring, and place the pier on top of the wooden template. Mark the 4x holes through the base, and drill holes for the L-Bolts. Then push the L-bolts through and fasten them to the wooden template. When you've poured the concrete, place the template on top, and allow the L-bolts to sink into the wet concrete. Remove any excess concrete and allow it to set. When you remove the template you will have the 4x bolts protruding, to which the pier can be fixed down using the nuts provided. (Click on the image gallery for step by step photos). How to I fasten the pier to an existing hard concrete or masonry surface? If you want to install the pier on an existing flat surface, choose the straight-bolt option when ordering instead of the L-bolts. Once you have drilled 4x holes in the hard surface which correspond to the pier base holes, you can fill the holes with "builders epoxy" and allow the straight studding to set before attaching the pier with the buts provided. Alternatively you can use your own expanding bolts and so-on, depending on the type of surface and your preference.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:Altair SkyShed Pier Unique Features: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.Altair SkyShed 8" Adjustable Steel Pier compatibility list: (The pier adapters connect to the pier top plate using 4x M8 cap-head screws, fastened by nuts underneath). 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.Step-by-step installation instructions: If you're installing decking (the best way to mount your POD observatory dome), we recommend you leave a gap between the decking surface and the pier to isolate it. This avoids vibration caused by people moving around on the deck. We recommend using a wooden base-template (basically a flat piece of wood) which is then is flipped over to set in the concrete. This gives a nice flat surface, and positions the holes perfectly to match the pier base. For existing concrete surfaces, you can request straight bolts instead of L-bolts. These can be inserted into pre-drilled holes and bonded in with building epoxy. Don't hesitate to call us to email or call to chat if you need advice about installation.Step 1Dig 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.Step 2Screw 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.Step 3Pour 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.Step 4Build 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.