I’m located about
41miles north of Houston in the small town of Splendora, TX. Light
pollution is an issue even this far away from the big city. I recall
as a small boy living only 12 miles outside of Houston heading onto
my grandfathers field with a small Jason 60mm refractor. At that
time you could look up and see the Milky Way as a cloudy mass of
stars. This was where I had my first views of the moon, Jupiter, and
Saturn that just totally blew me away.
It wasn’t until
my very late 20’s before I purchased my first real telescope, a
beautiful orange Celestron 8” in preparation of the ‘once
in a life time’ Halley’s Comet flyby, oh what a
disappointment that turned out to be. As the years flew by I’ve
owned several telescopes with my largest being the red Coulter 13.1”.
At present I have a
Bushnell 4.25” 78-2010 similar to the Astroscan, a nice vintage
Coulter CT-100 4.5”, a NexStar 80GT 80mm refractor, a Meade 6”
SC, and a Meade 12” Lightbridge. I also own two binoculars, an
Orion Giant 11x80 and a Pentax 7x50 PCFV. I suppose my telescope
bias would be towards the classy Schmidt-Cassegrains but I do love
the wonderful light grasp of a big fast Dobsonian.
I’d like to
discuss my experience in assembling a Portable Observatory which I
purchased plans for from “CoverYourAstro.com” in
Grapevine, TX. As I was searching the web for portables I came
across this one claiming it could be built for under $200.
My main purpose for
wanting a portable was for blocking stray light from neighboring
houses. A second purpose was for blocking wind while viewing from my
deck on cold winter nights. Lastly there’s a lot of humidity
in my area and this portable makes for a great dew break as the
evening quickly cools down. Plus it also offers protection for the
scope after viewing is done for the evening.
After ordering plans I
began building my own portable observatory with one major difference;
my cover had to be of the more traditional white observatory color
and not blue as pictured above. I found my white tarps at
Cover SuperStore”. The PVC items and hardware (bolts &
nuts) I found at “HomeDepot” and the wheels at “Northern
get into the depth of dimensions and the fabrication of components as
detailed in the plans but will show you the putting together of this
portable observatory. I’ve chosen the upper deck of my
backyard for this review. All components except the cover clips fit
snuggly into one military duffle bag although the plans suggest using
two bags. In the picture below I’ve already removed the white
tarp cover and eight stanchions from the duffel bag.
begin by laying out the various components on the deck prior to
start by connecting the roller units into a circular ring assembly.
you attach eight Stanchions to the roller ring assembly.
Then the Stanchions are
topped with the Dome Ring units.
You attach the
remaining Dome Assembly units to finalize the observatory frame.
Lastly the cover is
attached to the portable observatory frame with previously made
Observatory Cookbook’ plans go on to tell you how to make an
optional sliding door and top cap for protecting your equipment from
dew after an evening of viewing. The dome spins very easily with one
hand on its eight wheels. It also provides a nice opening for
viewing the night sky with you and your telescope inside.
You could easily stake
the observatory structure down during times of non-observing if left
assembled for several days to protect it from heavy winds. Below is a
picture of my portable dome with 12” Light Bridge inside. As
you can see there is plenty of room for several people and the scope
This observatory is
easily assembled and broken down, it provides a nice wind break and
blocks stray light, it protects you for dew and with the optionally
made top cover can help to seal off the elements like rain. And best
of all its portable; you can take this baby anywhere with you.
little secure about it, you’d have to remain close by to keep a
visual on your equipment. It’s not designed as a permanent
structure so you wouldn’t keep it assembled for more than a few
days at a time. During heavily windy conditions it would need to be
staked down much like a tent so it wouldn’t blow away.
In conclusion I feel
for its value, the “CoverYourAstro” portable observatory
makes for a very comfortable observation setting and protects your
equipment from the elements very nicely.