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Equipment Discussions >> Observatories

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Calypte
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 03/20/07

Loc: Anza, California
Re: Backyard Observatories... Installed pricing? new [Re: Calypte]
      #5616580 - 01/11/13 01:08 AM

Adam, I apologize for taking over the thread, but there are three other things I wanted to mention.

(1) In these tiny buildings, every inch of space counts. I added 2 ft of length, making the obs. 9-6 x 11-6, still keeping it under 120 sq ft. The two extra feet cost an additional $450. Since I was already down a lot of money for the project, I couldn't see nickel & dime-ing what I really wanted. I did, however, forego the motorized roof $1100), and I may yet regret that decision. It takes a good pull to get the roof rolling.

(2) Scott & Don came in a big Chevy pickup with a trailer of the type you might use for moving, about the size of a large horse trailer. I have a lot of space on the property (2.73 acres). I chose the observatory site so that the house would block a particularly annoying bright light, but also it was already cleared off, and it was easy for the guys to get back there to do the work.

(3) I considered a dome. A friend has an Explora-Dome, and it's really very nice. Three things made the decision for a roll-off instead of a dome: (i) I didn't want to attract unwanted attention by having something that looked like an observatory. (ii) My friend's Explora-Dome requires some calculations and data entry to get the rotation correctly synchronized with the scope. He said he had some trouble getting it right. Since I'll be swapping scopes occasionally, I wasn't sure I could get it working with all three scopes. I didn't want to have to worry about it. (iii) His door requires bending over to crawl through. At 69, I don't want to bend over if I don't have to. However, the Explora-Dome provides more protection against dewing of the optics, more protection from wind, and a view down to the horizon. I agonized a long time about the pier height. I finally went with BYO's standard 42 in. No, I can't see the horizon (except south; I got the fold-down south wall), but for imaging it doesn't matter. I'm not going to shoot down there anyway, and I gain some wind protection. It was important to me to get the fold-down south wall, but it turns out that I haven't used it except to view Canopus from inside the observatory. I may gain some galaxies in Fornax and Eridanus.


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Footbag
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/13/09

Loc: Scranton, PA
Re: Backyard Observatories... Installed pricing? new [Re: Calypte]
      #5616942 - 01/11/13 09:56 AM

Thanks for all of the info. I appreciate all of the details and pictures. I think I also have a better understanding about the logistics of how they operate.

I have to say, I'm excited to get this underway; but not at all confident in my location selection or planning ability.

Below is a picture of the location. It will either be on a raised deck right up against the house where the gas tank is, or in the center of the lawn with all effort put into maintaining the view from the windows you can see behind the landscaping.

I'd like the roof to roll south, but I also want maximum southern view. That is what I don't have in town.

I'd also like a warm room to be placed within the frame for the roll off roof. And I'd love to do it in an 8X10 structure.



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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Backyard Observatories... Installed pricing? new [Re: Footbag]
      #5616977 - 01/11/13 10:26 AM

Quote:

I'd like the roof to roll south, but I also want maximum southern view.




If your roof rolls south, it will definitely block some of your southern view! I had mine roll west, as there's a mountain that partially blocked the horizon, so the roof didn't take any sky away. My walls are around 3' high, to give me maximum view with my dob; therefore, a Dobservatory.


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1965healy
The Snarkster
*****

Reged: 06/23/07

Loc: San Antonio, TX
Re: Backyard Observatories... Installed pricing? new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5617019 - 01/11/13 10:51 AM

Is there attic/finished space in the part of the structure to the right of the propane tank? If so you could use it as your warm room and a way to access the Obs which could be built on a deck above where the propane tank is.

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Footbag
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/13/09

Loc: Scranton, PA
Re: Backyard Observatories... Installed pricing? new [Re: 1965healy]
      #5617038 - 01/11/13 11:02 AM

Quote:

Is there attic/finished space in the part of the structure to the right of the propane tank? If so you could use it as your warm room and a way to access the Obs which could be built on a deck above where the propane tank is.




Yes. Actually, the window above the gas tank is my bedroom. I could use it as a warm room, but wouldn't easily be able to get there from the observatory. This is a very old log cabin. We won't be allowed to cut any logs.

I just had a discussion with my parents, who own the property and will have veto power over the location. They also prefer the gas tank area. My initial concern was their view from their bedroom, and that has become their main concern.

If I were to put it by the house, I just wonder how you would deal with the roof transitions. This is why I need a professionals guidance.

I really hate to say this, because I don't like them; but a dome might make this a lot easier.


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1965healy
The Snarkster
*****

Reged: 06/23/07

Loc: San Antonio, TX
Re: Backyard Observatories... Installed pricing? new [Re: Footbag]
      #5617096 - 01/11/13 11:36 AM

PM sent.

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Footbag
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/13/09

Loc: Scranton, PA
Re: Backyard Observatories... Installed pricing? new [Re: 1965healy]
      #5617144 - 01/11/13 11:58 AM

Quote:

PM sent.




Coincidentally, I was just showing the Google overhead view to my parents. I put two red squares in there to show you the spots.

For scale, there is a golf cart in the front yard. It is 8' long.



Edited by Footbag (01/11/13 11:59 AM)


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Backyard Observatories... Installed pricing? new [Re: Footbag]
      #5617169 - 01/11/13 12:18 PM

Which direction is South, on this image?

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Footbag
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/13/09

Loc: Scranton, PA
Re: Backyard Observatories... Installed pricing? new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5617173 - 01/11/13 12:21 PM

My bad. South is down.

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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Backyard Observatories... Installed pricing? new [Re: Footbag]
      #5617189 - 01/11/13 12:27 PM

No problem Yes, that would be the best way for the roof to roll off; however, it looks like your southern view will be blocked considerably by the buildings.

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1965healy
The Snarkster
*****

Reged: 06/23/07

Loc: San Antonio, TX
Re: Backyard Observatories... Installed pricing? new [Re: Footbag]
      #5617195 - 01/11/13 12:30 PM

I'm guessing South is at the top? Hard to figure out the lot lines on anything but the right/East side. Is that your driveway on the NE corner? Will you get a lot of light from the house to the right? Just checked your post and I'm backwards. Based on the image/orientation you're going to have a view of a pine tree and the house to the south. Your horizon will be maybe 60 degrees?

Edited by 1965healey (01/11/13 12:36 PM)


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Footbag
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/13/09

Loc: Scranton, PA
Re: Backyard Observatories... Installed pricing? new [Re: 1965healy]
      #5617241 - 01/11/13 12:57 PM

In the summer, there is a lot of light coming from the neighbors house on the left side. They have lots and lots of bright landscape lighting. There are very few winter residents, so it will be very dark in the winter.

The very top of the picture is the lake. The building at the top is a boathouse. Everything slopes towards the lake.

I will not have a great horizon, butI think it will be better then 60 degrees. It is much darker then where I typically image from. And I think most of my targets will be high in the sky when I'm imaging them.

Truth is, if I had a better location, I'd use it. But as for now, I just want a way to image without setting up. I have back problems and when it goes out, I can't do anything. I'd love to be able to do some remote imaging in those cases. And in the winter, I hate running out into the cold to setup and breakdown.


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1965healy
The Snarkster
*****

Reged: 06/23/07

Loc: San Antonio, TX
Re: Backyard Observatories... Installed pricing? new [Re: 1965healy]
      #5617259 - 01/11/13 01:10 PM

Where is the lot line to the left of the house?

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Footbag
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/13/09

Loc: Scranton, PA
Re: Backyard Observatories... Installed pricing? new [Re: 1965healy]
      #5617265 - 01/11/13 01:15 PM

6 feet from the house. There is no room on that side.

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1965healy
The Snarkster
*****

Reged: 06/23/07

Loc: San Antonio, TX
Re: Backyard Observatories... Installed pricing? new [Re: 1965healy]
      #5617317 - 01/11/13 01:51 PM

Dome vs ROR debate
Dome is a smaller footprint
Less ambient LP with a dome
More of a DIY project
But
Small footprint equals cramped unless you go big
Access is thru a small door in the base
No warm room so you're in ambient temps unless you automate it
Slot/mount sync is critical
Obvious to all what's inside

ROR less cramped
Tracking is in a wide open environment
Entry/exit thru a regular door
Looks like a shed/outbuilding

Larger footprint
Stick built not a DIY for most folks

Both can be automated for remote use from inside the house or from a distant location


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Footbag
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/13/09

Loc: Scranton, PA
Re: Backyard Observatories... Installed pricing? new [Re: 1965healy]
      #5617338 - 01/11/13 02:07 PM

Yeah, I don't like anything about the dome option, except the smaller footprint.

And since it's a winter home, I am concerned with theft in the winter. It will have an alarm/security system, but a lot of damage could be done in the meantime.


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1965healy
The Snarkster
*****

Reged: 06/23/07

Loc: San Antonio, TX
Re: Backyard Observatories... Installed pricing? new [Re: Footbag]
      #5617383 - 01/11/13 02:39 PM

Talk to Scott @BYO, their M1 Automation has security feature as well.

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1965healy
The Snarkster
*****

Reged: 06/23/07

Loc: San Antonio, TX
Re: Backyard Observatories... Installed pricing? new [Re: 1965healy]
      #5617403 - 01/11/13 02:51 PM

Don't know if you're anywhere near Kimberton, PA but check out this site. Automated BYO Obs.
http://darkhorseobservatory.org/index.php


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Calypte
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 03/20/07

Loc: Anza, California
Re: Backyard Observatories... Installed pricing? new [Re: Footbag]
      #5617424 - 01/11/13 03:03 PM

If I had a dome, the ideal for me would be to have an elevated observing floor, accessed by a short interior stairway, thus allowing for a standard height entry door. The dome itself and pier would be higher, of course, to accommodate this. In my mind's eye I see something like the old 18-inch Schmidt dome at Palomar Obs. (I work there as a volunteer). Such a dome would definitely look like an observatory. There'd be no hiding it.

For location on the property, it sounds like you have some domestic negotiations to resolve, and I don't think I can help you. We're retired. Our vegetation is variously described as high chaparral or desert transition (elev. about 3930 ft.). The property slopes gently to the south. The previous owner had to have some of the vegetation cleared for fire protection, so I have several suitable observatory sites. That was a major factor in choosing this property. My chosen observatory site was to deal with that @#$% light to the southeast, but, once up, I discovered another annoying light, to the southwest. Sigh! It's probably 1/2 mile away, so it could be lots worse. Provided the south wall is up, the observatory walls block all exterior lights and the distant urban light domes. I was worried about interior lights from my own house, but they haven't been an issue.

My roof rolls north. Polaris barely clears the peak of the roof, as viewed from the scope. You'll gain by Polaris being higher, assuming that part of the sky is important to you.

Edited to add: my friend's Explora-Dome is 10 ft diameter. The footprint is actually smaller than mine (78 sq ft vs 109 sq ft), plus some of the floor is under the sloping outer parts of the building. OTOH, he can leave his cope in the upright position (equivalent to A-P's "Park 3"), so it's easier to walk around the scope. One advantage of a dome is that you have protection for much of your gear if a sudden storm comes over. Before I had the observatory, I had my scope set up under a Tele Gizmos-type cover, and a storm that all of the weather forecasts had ignored moved up from Baja Calif. and soaked my gear. The scope & mount were OK, but I thought my computer was fried. It was a couple of days before it came back to life. A dome would have protected it; my roll-off is no better than what I had before.

Further edited: The scope wasn't under the cover at the time of the storm, of course. It was imaging in perfect conditions most of the night.

Edited by Calypte (01/12/13 01:01 AM)


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Footbag
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/13/09

Loc: Scranton, PA
Re: Backyard Observatories... Installed pricing? new [Re: Calypte]
      #5617663 - 01/11/13 05:51 PM

A good location and plan will solve the domestic issues. If it goes over by the gas tank, that problem is solved.

It will be raised up higher and I will have a better view of the sky and likely Polaris, although I have less interest in imaging the northern targets. The trees to the north just reveal Polaris when I'm on the ground, but it's possible the gas tank is in just the wrong place to see Polaris. That wouldn't really bother me.

I typically image from the box in the center of the lawn area. To the SE and SW there are some trees, but there is a pocket between them which will give me a few hours on the further south targets.

I'm wondering whether the roof line of the house could maybe be extended over the observatory and then a further rolling roof extension could be put on top of that. Or whether it's better to keep them completely separate. I'm not a builder or architect, so I don't know.


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