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Equipment Discussions >> Observatories

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timwetherell
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Brick walls for an observatory?
      #5662237 - 02/04/13 06:11 PM

I'm about to start designing an observatory for my 8" refractor. (Heaving it in and out each time has finally ceased to be fun!)

I'm toying with the idea of using wood paneling on the inner walls and brick on the outer walls separated by a few inches of insulation. Obviously any kind of masonry isn't 100% desirable because of its tendency to store heat but i was just wondering if anyone had any experience with this? Do you think it would be a mildly bad idea or would it render the whole thing useless?

Why brick? Well, it has to look a certain way to keep my other half happy


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rimcrazy
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: timwetherell]
      #5662248 - 02/04/13 06:19 PM

Can you use faux-brick panels on the outside of wood panels that don't have near the heat capacity of real bricks? You get rapid cooling, she get's "Brick" appeal.

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csa/montana
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: rimcrazy]
      #5662263 - 02/04/13 06:26 PM

Quote:

Can you use faux-brick panels on the outside of wood panels that don't have near the heat capacity of real bricks? You get rapid cooling, she get's "Brick" appeal.




Not to mention, much easier to do.


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timwetherell
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: rimcrazy]
      #5662300 - 02/04/13 06:54 PM

yes I guess that would be a possibility. I think she's imagining some rather fancy brickwork though. I showed her a design for a metal skin which apparently looked like a water tank and she sent me this as her ideal

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Aldershot_observatory_01.JPG

Edited by timwetherell (02/04/13 07:22 PM)


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rimcrazy
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: timwetherell]
      #5662315 - 02/04/13 07:05 PM

Well if she likes that then she would love this

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timwetherell
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: rimcrazy]
      #5662334 - 02/04/13 07:19 PM

Oh yes, I'm sure that would be just the ticket! I wouldn't even dare table the idea of stone!

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JJK
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 04/28/08

Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: timwetherell]
      #5662608 - 02/04/13 10:21 PM

Tim,

I have a brick house, and can feel heat radiating from the surface for hours after the Sun sets. I'd recommend against using much brick or stone.

I bought a lovely cedar walled garden shed (9' 6" square Williamsburg style) from www.gardensheds.com about 7 years ago. Shortly thereafter, I contacted them to design & build a RoR observatory in the same design, perhaps a bit bigger. Life got in the way, and I built my own 8'x8' building (a fun process, but it is nowhere as nice looking as the Garden Sheds' structure). I contacted the company again, and they now make RoR and dome observatories.

These structures aren't cheap, but they are striking, exude quality, enhance the value of your property, and would please any better half. They even look beautiful from the inside. In addition, they deliver the structure either completed (they carefully place it on your foundation, you could be observing that same day the observatory is delivered) or as a kit (to save a bit on transportation costs). They even have options like recycled plank flooring that looks stunning, windows/no windows, pre-wired, roof material, etc. My next observatory will be built by them.

I saved money building my own tiny observatory, but if I had built one of the same size as my garden shed, the difference in cost would not be much (a lot of little things add up). I'll be giving mine away when I move (which should be in about a year).

I think they can build any size structure you want. An 8" refractor likely needs about a 10' square structure, and perhaps a larger footprint depending on the focal length.

Clear Skies,
John


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Hilmi
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: JJK]
      #5662858 - 02/05/13 02:48 AM

I live in a brick house. It's the law and there is no way around it where I live. I built my observatory on the roof. using sandwich panels because I have no space anywhere else. When you have no choice as to how it is going to be built, its better to have a less than perfect observatory rather than have non.

I'm now working on building my new house and i am moving from a 200 m^2 plot to a 900m^2 with the possibility to expand the plot a further 400 m^2. Now I am planing an observatory building outside the house a good distance away from the building. An astronomer has to do what an astronomer has to do.


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nytecam
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: timwetherell]
      #5662912 - 02/05/13 04:36 AM

Tim - climbing evergreen plants make the perfect screen material and provide year-round shade. Hence the reason, in IR-photos, such foliage appears white = IR reflective! But if done properly the brickwork will be largely invisible

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dobsoscope
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: nytecam]
      #5662919 - 02/05/13 04:53 AM

+1 for that advice, if not paint it all pure white and it will remain pretty much cool to the touch.

Quote:

Tim - climbing evergreen plants make the perfect screen material and provide year-round shade. Hence the reason, in IR-photos, such foliage appears white = IR reflective! But if done properly the brickwork will be largely invisible




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mikey cee
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: dobsoscope]
      #5663424 - 02/05/13 11:33 AM

Concrete block stays cooler inside on warm days. On hot to super hot days it doesn't make much difference. The hollow air cores are great insulators. You can get designer faces and different sizes. I just used regular concrete block to match the house foundation. Brick is hot on either side and much more labor intensive to lay. Mike

Edited by mikey cee (02/05/13 11:34 AM)


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timwetherell
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: JJK]
      #5664047 - 02/05/13 05:43 PM

Those sheds are pretty amazing John!

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timwetherell
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #5664053 - 02/05/13 05:46 PM

Yes I'd thought about roof top too but as much as anything it would involve making expensive changes to our (brick) house that would also be very awkward given its design. I heard from others that roof top isn't ideal too. hope your new setup works well - must be hot in Oman? Guess bricks would be a real headache there?

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timwetherell
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: nytecam]
      #5664054 - 02/05/13 05:48 PM

Given the likely standard of my brickwork fake or real, hiding it as much as possible might well be the go!

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timwetherell
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: mikey cee]
      #5664062 - 02/05/13 05:52 PM Attachment (17 downloads)

I've done some building in hebal (a very airated concrete) and it's great. flame retardant insulating and light.

I'm actually erring toward the suggestion of fake bricks. I was a bit skeptical at first but the more I think about it the more it does seem to offer a good solution. especially since it's highly likely that we'll have to move one day and take the observatory with us.

I have provisional approval for this design so now just have to figure out how to make it.


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JJK
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 04/28/08

Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: timwetherell]
      #5664189 - 02/05/13 07:12 PM

Quote:

Those sheds are pretty amazing John!




Ask the company owner (Ken) for info on Rex's RoR observatory. It's really neat, and the image of the installation (placing the entire structure perfectly on the foundation) is impressive.

Edited by JJK (02/05/13 07:13 PM)


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JJK
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 04/28/08

Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: timwetherell]
      #5664195 - 02/05/13 07:15 PM

Quote:

I've done some building in hebal (a very airated concrete) and it's great. flame retardant insulating and light.

I'm actually erring toward the suggestion of fake bricks. I was a bit skeptical at first but the more I think about it the more it does seem to offer a good solution. especially since it's highly likely that we'll have to move one day and take the observatory with us.

I have provisional approval for this design so now just have to figure out how to make it.




You can move the Garden Sheds buildings in one piece.


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Hilmi
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: JJK]
      #5664769 - 02/06/13 08:06 AM

Tim,

I actually used the wrong word. What we call bricks, you refer to as cinder blocks I think. My house is made from Cinder blocks. The entire area is built up and covered with concrete and blocks. So basically, the seeing isnt any worse on the roof than it would have been on the ground.

At least I get to use the telescope every night because I dont have to worry about set up. The house also acts as a huge light shield. It blocks lots of the lower light sources like neighbors house etc. etc.


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berlinstar
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Reged: 03/28/11

Loc: Berlin Center, OH
Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #5667113 - 02/07/13 01:40 PM

If money wasn't an object (brick seems to be pretty expensive these days), I would think that you could build an airspace between two walls of bricks, to provide an air-space and insulate the inside from outside wall. I've seen late 1900's brick homes built this way.

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JJK
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 04/28/08

Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: berlinstar]
      #5667248 - 02/07/13 02:59 PM

Quote:

If money wasn't an object (brick seems to be pretty expensive these days), I would think that you could build an airspace between two walls of bricks, to provide an air-space and insulate the inside from outside wall. I've seen late 1900's brick homes built this way.




Bricks warmed during the day transfer heat to the adjacent air at night. I can't imagine wanting to view or image surrounded by brick walls. Been there, done that.


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berlinstar
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Reged: 03/28/11

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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: JJK]
      #5667359 - 02/07/13 03:58 PM

Not if it was engineered correctly. Proper venting and air space between inner and outer brick will work. It comes down to economics, build time, and cheaper, more efficient alternatives.

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zawijava
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: berlinstar]
      #5667516 - 02/07/13 05:17 PM

This would certainly keep the inside wall of bricks cooler but the warm outside wall would cause a rising plume of warm air all around the observatory until they reached ambient temps, correct ? -Tim

Quote:

If money wasn't an object (brick seems to be pretty expensive these days), I would think that you could build an airspace between two walls of bricks, to provide an air-space and insulate the inside from outside wall. I've seen late 1900's brick homes built this way.




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timwetherell
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #5667519 - 02/07/13 05:20 PM

One problem is that I don't know they export to Australia? And if we move it would most likely be overseas again. From the site it does look like they do kits though so I'll keep it in mind

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timwetherell
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: Hilmi]
      #5667522 - 02/07/13 05:23 PM

Quote:


At least I get to use the telescope every night because I dont have to worry about set up.




Yep exactly! Dragging the beast out is such a task that I'm not using it nearly as much as it deserves - an observatory seems the right way to go!


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timwetherell
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: zawijava]
      #5667537 - 02/07/13 05:30 PM

I guess brick has a big heat capacity (hence their use in storage radiators) so in theory it may be bad but I've no direct experience myself which is why these discussions are so cool - can hear from those who have

Brick or concrete definitely wouldn't be portable. Perhaps I could make a temporary skin in metal then replace it with airated concrete blocks on the final version? Like the idea of growing stuff up it too!


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mikey cee
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: timwetherell]
      #5667577 - 02/07/13 06:01 PM

Conctrete blocks that are 6"x8"x16" have some decorative faces on them. They are easier to lay and make a circular layout easier than 8" block. Plus the hollow cores help insulte against heated air. They don't have abilty to do the intricate designs around the faux pas windows etc. Fake brick panels look like *BLEEP* when it comes outside corner joints etc. etc. They also make concrete bricks that are solid but are cheaper than clay bricks. I really comes down to tradeoffs and higher labor costs. Mike

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JJK
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 04/28/08

Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: zawijava]
      #5667623 - 02/07/13 06:28 PM

Quote:

This would certainly keep the inside wall of bricks cooler but the warm outside wall would cause a rising plume of warm air all around the observatory until they reached ambient temps, correct ? -Tim

Quote:

If money wasn't an object (brick seems to be pretty expensive these days), I would think that you could build an airspace between two walls of bricks, to provide an air-space and insulate the inside from outside wall. I've seen late 1900's brick homes built this way.







That would be my guess, based on experience.


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JJK
Carpal Tunnel


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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: timwetherell]
      #5667628 - 02/07/13 06:31 PM

Quote:

One problem is that I don't know they export to Australia? And if we move it would most likely be overseas again. From the site it does look like they do kits though so I'll keep it in mind




Shipping to Australia would likely be high. However, a similar design would not be difficult to build by yourself.


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timwetherell
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: JJK]
      #5667666 - 02/07/13 06:57 PM

They're definitely very beautiful - way better than one would expect for something termed a "shed". One worry I'd have about wood is that Australia has a nasty habit of catching fire all the time. I guess as we saw at Stromlo, if you take a direct hit from a firestorm pretty much nothing will save you. But it does rain hot embers from time to time which can set fire to shingle roof.

I think from a seeing perspective wood is close to ideal though


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timwetherell
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: mikey cee]
      #5667671 - 02/07/13 07:02 PM

Quote:

Fake brick panels look like *BLEEP* when it comes outside corner joints etc




Yes I can imagine they have a tendency to peel open if you're not careful just how they're set in place. I think we'd be aiming for a painted look regardless so there's more options for fillers etc if you don't care what the colour of them is.

I do worry that if we grew plants up the side (as apparently we will I'm told) they'd creep in the joints and bad things would result


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seryddwr
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: timwetherell]
      #5668324 - 02/08/13 04:03 AM

I saw this at my local hardware store, today. I don't know whether they have anything like this in Oz, but anyway, it appears to be an aerated concrete, cast into fake vernier stones that are individually glued onto a wall.

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roscoe
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: seryddwr]
      #5669018 - 02/08/13 01:20 PM

Tim,

Well, that fine scope of yours DOES need a classy observatory!!

What about the idea of making fake face bricks out of wood timber pieces, cutting something like 2x8" stock into 16" long pieces, bevel the edges so as to look brick-like, and apply them over a plywood skin (could be screwed on from inside the skin) Decorative sections could be shaped into the wood or created with different thickness stock, and if you painted it with textured paint, would look very brick-like from a distance......or you could stucco it for a more real, and more fireproof, exterior. The whole could be made to be light enough that it could be un-bolted from its foundation piers and loaded aboard a tilt-bed truck.
An 8-sided structure built this way would be quite elegant!

Russ


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timwetherell
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: roscoe]
      #5670032 - 02/09/13 01:12 AM

Thanks Russ

Yes it's about time it had a proper home. We might use some sort of wood and a stucco effect - still debating. I'm actually doing experiments with the roof materials to see what's best in the sun. So far a double skin of aluminium is the winner.

There's also the question of what kind of roof. My wife's totally set on a roof that essentially disappears because she like just watching the sky - especially the satellites going over. But from the outside we want it to look like a domes structure. So, current plan is a system like a pedal bin, where the dome flips over and off


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rimcrazy
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: timwetherell]
      #5670218 - 02/09/13 07:09 AM

Just panel your roof with these You could then have a Head up Display overlay of the night sky.

Of course you will probably have to mortgage your house to do it.

Kinda cool actually but I'm sure besides the cost, there are a host of other impracticalities but interesting none the least.


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mikey cee
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Re: Brick walls for an observatory? new [Re: rimcrazy]
      #5670522 - 02/09/13 11:11 AM

I guess my only real dislike of bricks is the labor. It is a slow process even for professional masons. Also it takes a real pro to layout brick so that you space and cut things properly to avoid getting painted into a corner. Awfully lot of cutting and brick is a SOB to cut. Mike

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