Jump to content


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Feasible Observatory design?

  • Please log in to reply
7 replies to this topic

#1 fulhair


    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 20
  • Joined: 06 Jun 2015

Posted 01 May 2020 - 07:03 AM

So with the current New Zealand lock down I've not been able to get out to dark sky locations to do astro photography and this has become a nudge I need to set up an observatory at home. Thing is that I only have a smallish wooden deck as a feasible area to build on. I can see the south pole once I trim some of the tress and a clear view around the zenith. I can sink a pier about a meter and a half down to the ground  but I don't have space for even a small dome and my city is known for high winds.


Then I was inspired by the set up of the comet hunter Gennadiy Borisov, as per the attached photoBorisov-portrait-Oleg-Bruzgalov-credit.j which looks to fit the bill - something like a scope motel but easier to close up.


I've currently got a WO 90 Megrez and 200p newtonian on a heq5 mount, but would like to be able to upgrade the scope and mount at some point in the future when funds allow but still retain the same 'cover'.


So what I'm looking to see is if anyone has any recommendation if this design is feasible as a first build, blueprints or guides of a similar build and likely issues or alternatives to consider.

Thanks in advance


Edited by fulhair, 01 May 2020 - 07:11 AM.

  • psandelle likes this

#2 steveward53



  • -----
  • Posts: 2,599
  • Joined: 14 May 2012
  • Loc: Newmarket,UK

Posted 01 May 2020 - 07:06 AM

You forgot the picture ... wink.gif

#3 macdonjh


    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5,616
  • Joined: 06 Mar 2006

Posted 01 May 2020 - 07:19 AM



Welcome to Cloudy Nights.


A Motel-o-Scope can be as simple as a pier with a plastic trash barrel secured over your mount and scope.  If you want something a bit fancier, the hard part about those shown in your photo is figuring out the clearance so the cover doesn't hit your mount or scope as you tilt the top off.  I'll bet more ideas are available in the Observatories forum here, or an internet search.


Good luck.

#4 ngc7319_20



  • *****
  • Posts: 1,251
  • Joined: 25 Oct 2015
  • Loc: MD

Posted 01 May 2020 - 07:58 AM

I might wonder about solar heating of the small enclosure.  People sometimes install window air conditioners on their observatories -- I suppose some smaller cooling unit could be employed here.  Maybe thermo-electric cooling and good insulation.  The wide field cameras pictured are probably not impacted so much by thermal effects. But a larger scope might be adversely affected.

#5 fulhair


    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 20
  • Joined: 06 Jun 2015

Posted 03 May 2020 - 04:13 AM

Thanks for the feedback all.

It was really REALLY windy here last night and I realized that I'll need something really sturdy.

Set up and measure the cross section of the scope and mount in the upright position and found I would need a box of about a meter wide by a meter and half tall from the side on if I was going the scope motel route.

I'm thinking this is going to act like a sail and need to be waterproof so started to think about something out of aluminum steel and was browsing for shed materials and came across this for a pool pump shed (https://www.bunnings...-cover_p3310425).

It's reasonably cheap and if I have my scope park position horizontal then it should fit in under the 1.2m roof. I can scre it to the deck and it should handle the wind much better having a lower cross section.

Can fold over the roof over the side of the deck when I want to observe and once I know how things fit  decide place the pier through the deck.

I'm planning on this being mostly for astrophotography so don't need to by scope when it's running and have a small pc or astroberry to run things remotely from the house.

Thoughts anyone?



  • Jeff B1 likes this

#6 vsteblina



  • *****
  • Posts: 2,129
  • Joined: 05 Nov 2007
  • Loc: Wenatchee, Washington

Posted 03 May 2020 - 02:33 PM

I had a small 8x8 foot observatroy.  


I made the roof fairly lightweight and simply took it off like a shoebox when I observed. 


I did use C-clamps to hold the roof to the walls in high winds.  I did have have some small clasps orginally, but the wind ripped those right off one night and the roof ended up a 1/4 mile down the road.

  • OldManSky likes this

#7 fulhair


    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 20
  • Joined: 06 Jun 2015

Posted 27 May 2020 - 03:20 AM

Thanks all for the advice. 

Last week the astronomy gods smiled down on me and I out of the blue was sent an email asking if I was interested in a Sky Shed pod at a bargain price.

Eight hours of driving later it's now sitting on my back deck and takes up about the same size as the shed I was going to buy, though I'll have to nice to the wife and neighbors given it's height.

I need to track down a replacement key for the door and the bolts that hold the dome closed but otherwise it's in great condition.

Clear skies everyone!

  • jcj380 likes this

#8 jcj380


    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,802
  • Joined: 08 Jul 2014
  • Loc: 42N 88W

Posted 27 May 2020 - 08:27 AM

Congrats on your acquisition!

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Recent Topics

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: observatory

Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics