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Need advice on a new compact observatory

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#1 Lead_Weight

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Posted 09 October 2020 - 01:28 PM

Hello, We recently had to take down two trees in our back yard that were dying from an incurable root rot. One was in the corner of our yard directly blocking Polaris. For the last three years, I've been imaging to the right of Polaris, and up and over to the west. That was my only visible area. 

 

I'm exploring my options for putting in a non-permanent / semi-permanent (could be taken down if I had to) observatory. 

 

I have approximately enough room to do a 6-foot dome or something of that size, and not much more. The fence in the images is 6 feet tall, which means the bushes are about 12 feet tall and would sit as "walls" on either side of the telescope. So I need to raise it up off the ground quite a bit, and might have to trim the bushes diagonally on either side of the telescope so I can image at a lower degree altitude.

 

Also, this area is in my easement, which is 8 feet from the fence. This is why it can't be permanent. I also have an HOA who doesn't like structures taller than the fence, but there are a TON of structures in our neighborhood taller than the fence, from kid jungle Jims to those back yard storage shacks, so I think I can get away with it as long as it's not permanent. 

 

I'm looking for recommendations on smallish observatory designs that could fit in that area. Recommendations for elevating the observatory. I'm thinking it could have a manual tilt off roof, or possibly a dome, but putting it up there myself will be a chore. Also any guidance on issues I might face doing this in an HOA regulated neighborhood if someone else has attempted the same. I could also forgo a pier and keep the mount on it's tripod assuming I can make the platform stable with a bed of rocks or something. I would want to bug proof it, as we're in the south, where there's lots of bugs and it's humid.

 

Since this is in my back yard, I'll just run ethernet and power back there and image from inside the house. I don't need much standing room, just room for the telescope to move around. I'll permanently house the Edge 11 scope inside it on the GM1000 mount. And maybe (infrequently swap it out for a smaller refractor like my Esprit 100. But I do have a very portable Rainbow Astro mount which will run the esprit and is easy enough to carry outside and put on our deck which isn't in the photos.

 

First photo is a panorama starting west and panning north then east of the full back area.

IMG_2332.jpeg

 

Closer view of the corner where the observatory would go. I put a circle with the approximate location of Polaris. I've never imaged to the south because my home blocks the view, so in this position, I think I'll be able to shoot over my roof. Also note the bushes here. The fence is at 6', so the bushes are at least 10-12'. My wife likes the bushes, and while upset the trees had to come down, and has encouraged me to look into a permanent setup for the telescope, she doesn't want the bushes touched if at all possible.

62378555611__7C34A3E4-95C9-4957-A647-26FF0E74DCA9.jpeg

 

Finally, the ground where it will sit showing the available space.

IMG_2335.jpeg

 

 

 



#2 PirateMike

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Posted 09 October 2020 - 01:42 PM

I have very recently re-started building my little observatory.

 

It started out (in my mind) to be a very simple structure that could be put up and taken down by a single person in 20 minutes or so. As things usually go with me, the little project morphed into having a life of it's own and ballooned into the answer to everything.

 

I too live in a place that can see some high temperatures and the "morphing phase" of the project seems to have addressed this problem in (as some people have said) a very unique design.

 

Please have a look and take away anything that you find useful. Let me know if you have any question, I'll be more than happy (ecstatic actually) to help in any way I can... loaning out funds excluded. lol.gif

 

 

https://www.cloudyni...observatory-51/

 

 

Miguel   8-)


Edited by PirateMike, 09 October 2020 - 01:48 PM.

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#3 macdonjh

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Posted 09 October 2020 - 01:51 PM

Lead_Weight,

 

The SkyShed Pods may be a good solution for you.  Easy to assemble and disassemble.

 

Something else to consider is an outhouse observatory.  You can do a search in the Observatories forum here.  Essentially a small building, just big enough to house your scope and mount.  The whole building rolls away from your gear.  When it's time to move you could pick the entire building up and put it on a small trailer to be installed at your next house.


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#4 vsteblina

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Posted 09 October 2020 - 01:56 PM

I made a 8X8X5 bolt-together observatory.

 

The floor was pressure treated wood, with a plywood floor.  The four walls were on 24 inch centers with plywood screwed in the 2x4 studs.  The ends of the walls bolted into each other with 3/8 inch bolts. Simple door, with clasp.

 

The roof was light weight fiberglass panels and just lifted off.  It was made of 1x4 pine on 24 inch centers.  It fit over the walls like a shoebox and was held down with C-Clamps.

 

It took a day to build it and cost about $200 in 1992.  Wood was pretty expensive in those days.

 

IF I had to do it again, I would probably go with a four foot wall.  The five foot wall doesn't really buy you much.  It is hard to do anything unless the roof is removed, anyway.

 

I lived in a rural area, so did not have issue with HOA's and making it look pretty.  If it is only four feet high you can actually hide it by buying some potted plants!!!


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#5 PirateMike

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Posted 09 October 2020 - 02:08 PM

A SkyShed type domed observatory might be a good solution but I do have one glaring issue with any domed observatory.

 

You know all the big professional obs use a dome, but one needs to look into why they are able to use such a design. Usually these domes are set high on a mountain top above all the city lights that are below. The use of a "prime location" like a mountain top is the only defense from unwanted light from actually traveling "down the tube" of their telescopes.

 

Now think of a trusty little SkyShed type domed observatory sitting in your backyard with all the close by street lights shining down upon it. Enter the obs and see that all is well. Now open the shutter and Boom...

 

Your little domed obs is full of light, not only that, all the light is streaming through the little opening that shortly will be used to point your telescope through. That seems like a bad thing to me.

 

 

Don't take me wrong, these little domed observatories can be excellent, but just like the big boys their location needs to be carefully considered.

 

 

 

Miguel   8-)

 

 

.


Edited by PirateMike, 09 October 2020 - 02:33 PM.


#6 Stevegeo

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Posted 09 October 2020 - 02:44 PM

A 6 ft domed observatory  would be tight  but doable for an 11 inch scope .. I have a 9 ft dome and my 11 fits nice,  enough room to walk around without bumping anything .

As others have suggested an "outhouse" style would do it , if you make it appealing  to the eye of the HOA.

A flip off style , or flip down , entire shed tilting down to the ground could be made as well. 

 Personally I'm not a big fan of HOA s in general .. this coming from a guy who lives in an area of no zoning , and lives in a geodesic house with a 1/2 scale lunar lander in his front yard . cool.gif

If the hoa decides what you can or cannot build or do then work with them on a suitable  solution.   Make it pleasing to the eye, and REMOVABLE.. you may want to move someday .. let us know what you decide and post pics of your building .

Clear skies . 

Stevegeo  


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#7 Lead_Weight

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Posted 09 October 2020 - 04:07 PM

Thanks for all the great suggestions. I don't think there's any way I would be doing a concrete pad. Just too much at risk if I'm asked to move the observatory for utility issues. Likely a gravel bed with cinderblock corners or grid for support for posts would be best. The platform would potentially have to be built 4-5 feet in the air, putting the top of the scope about 8-9 feet tall, which might just be right for the bushes next to them. I'll have to see about the SkyShed Pod and if HOA would allow me to have it in the back yard. It's not visible from the street...just the neighbor's house.



#8 vsteblina

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Posted 09 October 2020 - 05:22 PM

Thanks for all the great suggestions. I don't think there's any way I would be doing a concrete pad. Just too much at risk if I'm asked to move the observatory for utility issues. Likely a gravel bed with cinderblock corners or grid for support for posts would be best. The platform would potentially have to be built 4-5 feet in the air, putting the top of the scope about 8-9 feet tall, which might just be right for the bushes next to them. I'll have to see about the SkyShed Pod and if HOA would allow me to have it in the back yard. It's not visible from the street...just the neighbor's house.

You might be over thinking things.

 

I currently have a 10x10 bolt together observatory on a 10x10 treated wood floor.  I did put cover the floor with plastic film.

 

Granted, I live in a desert.  Your mileage may vary in humid and wet areas.

 

It is still there........after 20 years.  Hole in the middle for the pier.

 

As you noticed, have not upscaled my observatory in the past 30 years.


Edited by vsteblina, 09 October 2020 - 05:23 PM.


#9 Lead_Weight

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Posted 10 October 2020 - 02:05 PM

I might have found a solution for the tall bushes. I would get a Pier-tech motorized pier that would extend during imaging, and lower to be put away. I think something like that in a small box design that can go over the scope when lowered. 



#10 Lead_Weight

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Posted 10 October 2020 - 02:49 PM

I think something like this:

 

get.jpg?insecure

 

Combined with the Pier-tech motorized pier should fit in a 6x6 area or less and get me above the bushes for imaging. And since it can be lowered, I'll be able to go back down to a reasonable height that the HOA won't find offensive. I'm thinking currently that I might do a cement pier below, to accommodate the Pier-tech above, and could do a small deck to stand on.


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#11 suvowner

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Posted 15 October 2020 - 01:55 PM

if you can fit a nexdome in their they are great once you get all the kinks worked out of them.

 

https://dd3add39-c38...e9102985362.pdf


Edited by suvowner, 15 October 2020 - 01:56 PM.


#12 Lead_Weight

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Posted 15 October 2020 - 05:13 PM

if you can fit a nexdome in their they are great once you get all the kinks worked out of them.

 

https://dd3add39-c38...e9102985362.pdf

I would love to have a dome, but it's a bit large for the space I have available. I'm working up some drawings of how I intend to use the space and make the cabinet. It will open from the top and sides so I have easy access to change out scopes or components.



#13 gonzothegreat

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Posted 16 October 2020 - 11:56 AM

Here's my very compact remote observatory to give you an idea.

 

21103692_340279003080278_1393185295_o.jpg

 

21076791_340279006413611_827929338_n.jpg

 

21146381_340279043080274_1342118178_o.jpg



#14 Lead_Weight

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Posted 16 October 2020 - 12:45 PM

This is very cool, I assume you only image 180° of the sky?



#15 Lead_Weight

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Posted 16 October 2020 - 01:01 PM

I'm starting to sketch out some ideas for how this might be situated in the back yard.

 

This drawing shows the overall layout of the back yard. There are two possible locations for the telescope "micro" observatory. One being the back left corner, which was shown in the original images of our back yard. And the second location would be the middle right of the yard in front of our bedroom bay windows. 

 

The first choice, and best overall position for the scope is the first location in the corner. I would likely have clear unobstructed views in all directions once the pier is extended above the bushes. But this creates a few issues for me that I'm not quite sure how I feel about currently. Possible vandalism from any of the three neighbors or their kids. A thrown rock, water hose, or otherwise would not be great. It's also built on the easement of the property in this location, so a complaint to the HOA would likely mean taking it all down.

 

The second placement, is not ideal, but eliminates any issues that I see possible with position one. While it's to the right of the pool, and in front of our bushes, it's closer to the house, which would mean I can only image at higher altitudes. It also means, there's a huge "eyesore" right in front of our bedroom windows, which is also not ideal. My wife doesn't like this location, but hasn't decided if it's a no go. And to be honest, I don't think it's that great for placement either, but I'd rather it be here and not at risk of needing to be taken down or vandalized in some unplanned way.

 

IMG_0837.jpg

 

Here's a detailed view of how it would be situated in the first location. We are having a pool put in, so construction would be simultaneous, and I would have them run electricity since they're already doing it for the pool.

 

IMG_0836.jpg


Edited by Lead_Weight, 16 October 2020 - 01:10 PM.


#16 Lead_Weight

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Posted 16 October 2020 - 01:02 PM

This last image is the detail of the observatory build itself.  It would be on a 6'-8' deck base, with a house style shed that is 4' square, allowing 4' of deck space on either side to stand on, and open a doorway on each side allowing access to the telescope or equipment.

 

There would be a 5' concrete pier, with a Pier-tech 36" expandable to 51" pier extender allowing it to rise up above the roof line to get better line of sight. Shelves and small storage would be built in to house electronics, and the roof would be manually opened.

 

IMG_0840.jpg


Edited by Lead_Weight, 16 October 2020 - 01:04 PM.


#17 suvowner

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Posted 16 October 2020 - 01:24 PM

surely you can find room for a 130" diameter slab for a dome around there somewhere........you will already have to do concrete work for the pool

 

IMG_0140.jpeg



#18 Lead_Weight

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Posted 16 October 2020 - 01:26 PM

surely you can find room for a 130" diameter slab for a dome around there somewhere........you will already have to do concrete work for the pool

 

attachicon.gifIMG_0140.jpeg

Yeah, I think a dome is pretty cool, but it doesn't accommodate an extending pier to get me above the bushes and roofline. The bushes and roofline are 10-12 feet off the ground. 


Edited by Lead_Weight, 16 October 2020 - 01:27 PM.


#19 gonzothegreat

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Posted 16 October 2020 - 02:56 PM

This is very cool, I assume you only image 180° of the sky?

That's correct.



#20 TimN

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Posted 16 October 2020 - 04:03 PM

I wouldn't worry about the bushes. I live in an area of dense bush. It would be impossible to get rid of all the trees. So, I only image when things are fairly high. Never below 35 deg and usually over 45 deg. Yes I miss stuff but the things that I do image are much better when imaged higher. So, I may image a couple of things a night over many nights. 

 

I may not image as many different things as when I could move the scope around but I image a lot more and with better results. Getting an observatory was the best thing I've done in this hobby.


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#21 mikenoname

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Posted 16 October 2020 - 07:47 PM

Check out this thread for some great ideas on small observatories:

 

https://www.cloudyni...an-observatory/


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#22 Howie L

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Posted 16 October 2020 - 11:17 PM

I have a few large shrubs in my yard near my setup, and I tie them back with a cord when I want to use the scope.

Just having them tilt back a foot or two helps a lot,  some bushes are flexible, and don't mind being tied back for a few hours.




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