FLORISSANT • For almost 40 years, the Las Brisas Observatory has stood the test of time – and weather.
“It was inundated by a flood, evacuated due to a forest fire, and survived high winds that destroyed a nearby modular home,” said Paul Signorelli, who owns the observatory at Las Brisas Ranch in Florissant.
Built in 1982 by Alan Raycraft, a former Teller County resident, as a field station, the plywood shipping crate structure supports a Masonic dome that rides 140-year-old golf balls.
Signorelli bought the observatory in 1986 from Las Brisas (“the breezes”) ranch in Spain at an altitude of 8,550 feet.
In a blog from April 16, 2019 for Sky & Telescope: The Essential Guide to Astronomy, Signorelli quoted the telescope, a Celestron 14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain with an 8-inch Schmidt camera mounted on a concrete pillar .
The night sky over Florissant is pictured from the observatory.
According to the blog, at the age of 40, the observatory survived temperatures of -20 to 80 degrees with only slight damage to the electronics. Hail damaged the Masonite dome, but repairs have kept it waterproof. Additionally, the extreme temperature range has exploded some golf balls over the years, delaminating some of the plywood, and breaking some of the glued struts.
What Signorelli calls an “administration building” is a 21-foot trailer with a heater and a humidifier. “The sub-zero temperatures and the low humidity at this altitude put a strain on your lungs. No refrigerator is required; Instead, we have a “hot box” to keep things from freezing, ”he said.
Signorelli cites age and reluctance to climb ladders as reasons for selling the landmark. He sold the observatory and its 2.3 acres for $ 49,000. So far, he’s only got one bite from a potential buyer who lives in Texas.
For more information, please email Signorelli at [email protected].