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New Backyard... Do I have enough Open Sky to Warrant an Observatory?

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#1 string

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Posted 24 October 2020 - 05:58 PM

I posted a very crude YouTube video:
 
https://youtu.be/u7S0bi_hD6k
 
This is a tour around and around my new backyard. I would like to install an Observatory in the remodel but I do have a lot of blockage on two sides with tall trees. I'm in a Bortle 6 zone as well. I had thought of doing a mobile observatory to get to darker skies. Do I have enough unblocked (and dark enough) sky to justify a permanent observatory by the pond vs a mobile observatory? I had someone asking about my two 12ft satellite dishes so the dishes are also in the video. I know nothing about DIY Radio-Astronomy but I've been told that I could turn those dishes into a home-brew interferometer. However, this post is more about the feasibility of a permanent astrophotography observatory.

Edited by Dan Crowson, 27 November 2020 - 02:59 AM.
Fixed dead link

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#2 DeanS

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Posted 24 October 2020 - 06:02 PM

Your southern view looks good so you can see about every object at some point in the evening.  Go for it!


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#3 Jim Waters

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Posted 24 October 2020 - 06:17 PM

The East and South East along with the West could be better.  North and South look good.  Go for it.  Pick a spot and sink a large pier to start with.  What's the scope?

 

EDIT - Are the trees full grown?


Edited by Jim Waters, 24 October 2020 - 06:20 PM.

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#4 junomike

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Posted 24 October 2020 - 06:18 PM

Well worth it IMO.  It will also aid in keeping the Dew away (the pond is a huge Dew producer IME).


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#5 string

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Posted 24 October 2020 - 07:44 PM

The East and South East along with the West could be better.  North and South look good.  Go for it.  Pick a spot and sink a large pier to start with.  What's the scope?

 

EDIT - Are the trees full grown?

I bought this 70's house and 14 acres of trees from my parent's estate.  They planted every one of those trees in what was a soybean field. The southern pines are probably full grown. Now the backyard is the only meadow on the place. I think I could part with a few key trees on the south/southeast side but the west side stand goes on for acres. I was concerned about being so close to the (dew) pond but that's the best view I have. I've been moving my small rig around to find the sweet spot for the target of the night. Committing to one spot will be tough. I'm getting a mortgage loan for the remodel. I think that my builder would slip me a roll roof observatory in on the same note. I'm selling quite a few toys to fund the rig including my beloved Land Cruiser. I was hoping to afford a RASA 36 or Planewave CDK 14. I love the planewave L-350 mount but wow all of this gets nuts FAST. Alternatively I have also been looking at the Pier Tech mobile solutions... In search of darker skies as I'm north of town Bortle 6.  However, I bet it would be parked in this backyard most of the time.



#6 astrohamp

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Posted 24 October 2020 - 08:04 PM

So much to be seen and new tech to help you with viewing it.  If not in your back yard, is there possibly another location on all that land with wider FOV that you could build a remote site on?  Battery/solar power, point-to-point wireless link, further away from the pond...   Go for it one way or another.


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#7 string

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Posted 24 October 2020 - 08:43 PM

So much to be seen and new tech to help you with viewing it.  If not in your back yard, is there possibly another location on all that land with wider FOV that you could build a remote site on?  Battery/solar power, point-to-point wireless link, further away from the pond...   Go for it one way or another.

Unfortunately the backyard is the only unwooded area. Attached is the Satellite view of the place.  I have marked the location with the best view with a red x and the trees that could be cut around the pond in yellow. As you can see I am socked in with trees and lucky to have any sky. Trees are like fences tho... they make good neighbors. Luckly my fiancé loves Astronomy as much as the trees.

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#8 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 24 October 2020 - 08:51 PM

It's bad for a pond to have trees too close and on the dam.  Check out:  https://forums.pondboss.com/



#9 bogg

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Posted 25 October 2020 - 11:05 AM

I had less of a sky than you have in those pictures.  My eastern sky was practically obliterated by trees that allowed viewing from about 20degrees from zenith on the east to 20 degrees from the horizon on the west over a roof.  Still the observatory was the best move I made.  It made viewing easy as opening the door and starting the mount.  



#10 ChancesFate

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Posted 25 October 2020 - 07:05 PM

Absolutely you will enjoy having any kind of an observatory. Hey the clouds parted for an hour, my scope is ready to go.   No wind, no dew. I love having one.   It helps with dark adaptation if you do visual.   Good luck.


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#11 Starhawk

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Posted 25 October 2020 - 08:59 PM

Try a few spots when you see the weather is looking good for a couple days in the future and a tarp to pretend an observatory was there to help site in.  The broad north- south stripe should have you in good shape.  Heck, with that large lawn, you could nucleate people to have a mini-star party, someday.

 

-Rich


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#12 SimonIRE

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Posted 26 October 2020 - 10:18 AM

Definitely do it. Having an observatory isn’t just about great views. It’s also about having a place to put your kit, play with it, build stuff and do science.

I live in the UK and our skies aren’t exactly famous for clear nights. But I get so much enjoyment from my observatory....

And it’s ready to roll literally in 5 mins

Do it.
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#13 DSOGabe

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Posted 26 October 2020 - 11:46 AM

Definitely do it! From the pics you posted, there is enough sky visible to justify the work. Plus the added advantage of having all your gear ready to go at a moments notice- no need to drag the whole set up in and out, no tripods to level, no need to spend time doing polar alignments night after night, all that one needs to do is turn on the power switch... Its the thing many of us dream of having. 


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#14 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 26 October 2020 - 01:15 PM

Definitely do it! From the pics you posted, there is enough sky visible to justify the work. Plus the added advantage of having all your gear ready to go at a moments notice- no need to drag the whole set up in and out, no tripods to level, no need to spend time doing polar alignments night after night, all that one needs to do is turn on the power switch... Its the thing many of us dream of having. 

It's a little more than turning on the power.  My routine is: Take heater bulb off the pier (moisture control).  Unhook the small battery charger, and stow it under the observatory table.  Uncover the scope.  Take the scope cover into the garage, and bring out the eyepiece case and Nexus DSC.  Hook up the Nexus DSC. Put an eyepiece on the scope. Turn on the power to everything.   Open the dome slit.  Do two star alignment routine for the Nexus.  Observe.  Reverse all before alignment when finished for the night.

It still saves a LOT of time, protects from wind, dew, and local lighting.  No need to carry out a tripod, take the risk of dropping the scope while setting it on a tall tripod.  No need for polar alignment.  No need to handle heavy counterweights.  No carrying damp things back in when tired.  Lots of things can be left in the observatory, if there's room.  I don't leave my eyepieces in there because I prefer to keep them in the climate controlled, and somewhat safer house, but i could leave them in there.  There's not a lot of room for storage in a 8 foot dome containing a 6" refractor.


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#15 astrohamp

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Posted 31 October 2020 - 10:49 AM

string:

Having ANY back (front) yard for observing is a plus and yours looks to me ideal for a ROR or similar astro structure.  It might even enhance your view a bit of that fantastic spot.

Although having all that acreage to consider I'm still wondering if you could find a location on a hill, rise, knoll,... to clear (chain saw required) to place a remote observatory.  Not as backyard convenient yet visually out of that view you must have.  Just working the situation at hand as I have been using the saw a bit on my remote site.



#16 speedster

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Posted 31 October 2020 - 01:09 PM

Observatory is the best thing I've done and my site is a bit more obstructed than yours.  I'm also only 100' from my 80 acre pond.  The observatory made a quantum leap in my astronomy. 


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#17 peta62

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Posted 31 October 2020 - 01:18 PM

I have trees South ( no observatory though ), that is much worse than East and West, everything travels over your sky. My concern would be the pond, but closed observatory is much better guarded against moisture than standalone scope. I would try to rise the observatory above the ground if possible.

Edit : typo


Edited by peta62, 31 October 2020 - 01:19 PM.


#18 my-spot

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Posted 02 November 2020 - 02:11 PM

I would be tempted to build a small island in the middle of the pond. Of course, felling some trees would be easier...


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#19 string

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Posted 06 November 2020 - 09:21 PM

First of all thanks to all that have contributed to my topic. I'm learning a lot. I have reached out the the local Astronomy Association. I hope to eventually seek advice from someone who could come over and help me pic a spot. I just don't where to put the pier down. Speaking of the Pier... Ioptron has a pier pre-drilled for the CEM70 (that I already have on order). I also have just committed to a used RASA 11. The iOptron 8038 is $498 and the stock version is 35 inches. The price jumps to $698  for custom lengths. Is that a fair price for a pier? Would I need to go higher than 35" with a huge RASA  11 with dew shield?

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Edited by string, 06 November 2020 - 09:33 PM.


#20 choward94002

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Posted 06 November 2020 - 09:29 PM

Lot's of good advice here ... here's my $.02c

 

First, realize that most useful imaging is going to be done at altitudes greater than 60deg (due to atmospheric dispersion), so it's really not a big deal that you have trees on both sides of you ... you didn't post the angles that those trees, but again unless it's greater than 60deg it's not going to be a problem

 

Second you've got a great southern view which is really ideal ... get a copy of Stellarium, change the horizon numbers to match your horizon and do a seasonal tour, you'll find you have most of the interesting stuff visible at some point during the year

 

Finally, realize that it's better to have lot's of short exposures (less than 45min) rather than a few long ones (2+ hr) for a variety of reasons, so even if you've got a limited field you're good ...

 

More importantly, the reason you've got an observatory is to you don't have to haul your gear in and out every evening, get a good polar alignment and get everything set up ... you set things up once, then tend to taking pix rather than getting a workout ... and with your gear you've mentioned, the nightly haulout isn't an option ...

 

Nice spot!


Edited by choward94002, 06 November 2020 - 09:31 PM.

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#21 string

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Posted 06 November 2020 - 09:37 PM

Great info... Yes, with the RASA11 an Observatory is a must-have. I can't haul out that monster. How would I determine the altitude coverage of the trees?



#22 choward94002

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Posted 06 November 2020 - 09:58 PM

Easiest way is with an inclinometer, you can get those at home depot ... For a quick and dirty one, get a piece of eight and a half by 11 paper and fold it diagonally .. the angle formed is going to be 45°, put the long end on the ground and sight up on the angled end, if you can see sky then you've got 45° coverage, if you see about a thumbs width worth of trees you've got 60°



#23 WadeH237

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Posted 07 November 2020 - 06:40 PM

In my opinion, the more restricted your view, the more important it is to have some kind of permanent setup.  The reason is that obstructed views mean that you have limited observing opportunities.  With a permanent setup that can be started up in a couple of minutes, you can image whatever happens to be available when the sky is clear.

 

I just moved away from a place where I lived for 19 years that had about a 40+ degree horizon most of the way around in a Bortle 6 area.  I used to image only sporadically, and mostly at dark sky sites.  About 5 years ago, I started leaving my rig set up full time under a TG365 cover.  Even with my limited views, and even though I was living in one of the most overcast areas of the country, I started collecting lots and lots of data.  I just needed to be opportunistic about my targets.

 

I've just recently moved across the mountains onto a 40 acre property in a Bortle 3 zone with 360 degree views.  I'm going to be building a roll off roof observatory with a pier for imaging and a pier for visual (which is why I've started to follow this forum).  But I wanted to make the point that, on my previous property deep in the woods in an area with 300+ overcast days a year, I fully experienced the benefit of convenient imaging.  It made a huge difference versus setting up each time.


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#24 alphatripleplus

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Posted 07 November 2020 - 09:13 PM

Definitely go for it. In my last home I had an even more limited view of the sky, and regret that I did not have a permanent observatory. The savings in set-up and shut-down time and effort will make it worth it. 



#25 ShaulaB

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Posted 07 November 2020 - 09:34 PM

In my experience, ponds breed skeeters. But otherwise, sounds good.


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