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.


Observatory, Internal Lighting Solutions

  • Please log in to reply
10 replies to this topic

#1 Stef


    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 182
  • Joined: 07 Apr 2007
  • Loc: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, UK

Posted 07 October 2020 - 06:46 PM

I’m guessing that this topic may have already popped up in the past, but as I’m new to this discussion forum, I was hoping to revisit this & compile your thoughts, experience and perhaps some images to help me assess the options out there.  

So my question is:

What type of low level, dimmable red lights & fixtures are being used out there?


240V supply to my disposal.  

I’m interested in something that looks great and functions well.  Internal use only. 

I look forward to seeing your response.


Kind regards and best wishes from the UK.

#2 bobzeq25



  • *****
  • Posts: 22,037
  • Joined: 27 Oct 2014

Posted 07 October 2020 - 07:00 PM

I use LED tape lights like this.  It's dimmable, you'd need a 12V dimmer.  I don't dim, the lights are either on (setup) or off (imaging).



  • Stef, Stevegeo and 3rd Rock like this

#3 BlakeMC


    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 52
  • Joined: 22 Jul 2016
  • Loc: Utah

Posted 07 October 2020 - 07:46 PM



Similar to bobzeq25, LED strip lights.  Links to the parts are in the post.

  • Stef, bobzeq25 and Stevegeo like this

#4 kathyastro



  • *****
  • Posts: 2,406
  • Joined: 23 Dec 2016
  • Loc: Nova Scotia

Posted 07 October 2020 - 07:50 PM

I use a set of 120v red Christmas lights.  They dim just fine on a standard light dimmer, though they get a bit flakey at extremely low levels.  I also have some 12v LEDs to illuminate the computer keyboard.


There is also white lighting for maintenance-type activities.  A lighting master switch disables the white lights when the red lights are in use and vice versa.

  • Stef and AstroFrankMontana like this

#5 Taylor



  • *****
  • Posts: 1,345
  • Joined: 10 Jul 2005
  • Loc: Owasso, OK

Posted 07 October 2020 - 07:58 PM

I use LED tape lights like this.  It's dimmable, you'd need a 12V dimmer.  I don't dim, the lights are either on (setup) or off (imaging).



I did the same with LED strips. I used white and red on separate dimmers on a shelf over the computer desk, and I used red about 20" off the ground under some boards around the perimeter to light up the observatory from the bottom up with red light. 


I used this dimmer for the red strip around the bottom as it uses more amps and the cheap 12v dimmers got warm to the touch with the higher amps going through it. 


  • bobzeq25 likes this




  • *****
  • Posts: 8,039
  • Joined: 10 Feb 2014
  • Loc: Springwater, NY

Posted 07 October 2020 - 09:02 PM

I researched this for my dome a few years ago and discovered that that the LED ~string lights~ are bimodal quality: cheap junk vs more pricey premium ones. I opted for the good ones that are more durable, more lights per foot, wide range dimmable and just more reliable. They are also indoor/outdoor and can tolerate greater ambient temp range. The power supply/dimmer that I got has two independent circuits and runs off of 120VAC... so your 240 undoubtedly has hot to common at 120? If not, there is undoubtedly a 240 50Hz version. Here are some images. The string lights are running across the top of the deck railing there and perform wonderfully! The other circuit is on the inside.    Tom

Attached Thumbnails

  • 04 dome lights dimmer two circuits LED.jpg
  • 05 TOM AT DOME.jpg

  • Stef and bobzeq25 like this

#7 alphatripleplus


    World Controller

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 118,290
  • Joined: 09 Mar 2012
  • Loc: Georgia

Posted 11 October 2020 - 04:12 PM

No observatory here, but I've seen LED strip lights used by others seem to work well.

#8 VinceV


    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 60
  • Joined: 25 Mar 2018
  • Loc: Eastern PA

Posted 11 October 2020 - 08:36 PM

Two red light 120Vac light bulbs (in opposing corners) and one white (120Vac) light bulb. Red and white lights are on seperate switches.

#9 Jjones


    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 56
  • Joined: 20 Apr 2011
  • Loc: Stillwater, MN

Posted 25 October 2020 - 04:56 PM

I have recently completed the installation of a CPC 1100 Edge in a used SkyShedPod. I had a number of places where I wanted to put red led lights: over a table in one of the bays, over my ‘tool box’ of eyepieces in another bay, around the pier for general lighting (under the eyepiece plate) , and directly under the the telescope base itself.  I, too, looked at strips of led lights, but quickly realized that solution simply wasn’t flexible enough.

What I decided to do was to learn how to solder led lights and use a standard 12 volt 2 amp switching transformer available almost anywhere.  It did require some learning, but I have been able take care of every one of my lighting needs. I think I’ve attached the photo of the general lighting system under the eyepiece plate as well as the plate in use.  From the photo, you can see the holes for the three 3/4” pier bolts, and the 1.25” eyepiece holes.  I had to learn how to use bell wire to make the wire buss, and how to wire dimmers (the 2nd dimmer on the board is for the led lights that are directly under the telescope base).  All of these led lights are powered a single 12 volt transformers and are all dimmable.  It was a challenge to learn, but actually easier than it looks.  The best part is that is was CHEAP:  $6 for 100 led/resistors, $12 for 5 pwm dimmers, $10 for 2 12v 2amp transformers - all from Amazon.  All that is left is an inexpensive soldering iron and a hot glue gun.  If I can do it, anyone can do it.   (BTW, the led lights in the photo are turned all the way up; they can be dimmed down to almost nothing).



BF7483FD 7A51 4E27 9E62 6C1C16625F5B
7CB9EB57 D2F1 4260 92DD 3F77FF36589F

#10 Phil Sherman

Phil Sherman


  • *****
  • Posts: 3,224
  • Joined: 07 Dec 2010
  • Loc: Cleveland, Ohio

Posted 30 October 2020 - 12:13 AM

While what you did is great for an observatory with AC power available, an off grid building would require a slightly different approach. To decrease power requirements for the LEDs, you can wire four in series and use a lower value resistor to limit current flow. his will still give you the ability to control the brightness as you do now but will cut the power requirements by a factor of 4.


I used a slightly different technique to construct my flat box for an 8" Newtonian. 80+ LEDs equally spaced on a board and all wired together in parallel. They're directly connected to the variable power supply which is fed from a 12V feed. The variable supply was modified to prevent applying a voltage high enough to overheat the LEDs. I can dim it down to no light if necessary. I need a higher brightness for flats through the narrow band filters. The flat box is actually a deep cookie tin that's just a bit larger than the scope's tube. A ring of foam around the inside of the tin makes it a snug fit. When not in use, the tin cover keeps everything inside safe.

  • Scott123 likes this

#11 John Carlini

John Carlini


  • *****
  • Posts: 423
  • Joined: 10 Sep 2018
  • Loc: Northern Wyoming

Posted 31 October 2020 - 12:25 PM

My observatory is solar powered. I use a standard commercial light fixture and a 12v red bulb with an E26 screw-in base. Amazon carries red 12v bulbs and using COTS fixtures provides lots of selection choice...

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

Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics