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Building own observatory

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#1 starmaze

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Posted 24 April 2021 - 03:37 PM

Believe it or not, this is not a troll post. I've been lucky to be able to do well in my career. I just started thinking, "what am I still working for?". Maybe I'm having a mid-life crisis, but was suddenly struck with the urge to buy some land and build my own observatory! I can set that as a motivating goal for myself this year and use most of my earnings this year to fund it. 

 

Of course I am a beginner who doesn't know much. So far I have scoped the areas near me (within 30-40 minutes drive) that get me to bortle class 3 spots. No idea what sort of observatory to build, and things that would be good to have. I can envision in the future opening up this observatory to visitors or a club etc. I am thinking a few concrete pads with outlets where folks can set up equipment, a decent (though not necessarily paved) parking lot, and also a closed strong shed type building (heated) with removable ceiling of some sort. 

 

Am I totally crazy? And do you have suggestions for what would be good to think about for such an idea?


Edited by starmaze, 24 April 2021 - 03:38 PM.


#2 spereira

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Posted 24 April 2021 - 03:38 PM

Moving to Observatories.

 

smp



#3 Taosmath

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Posted 24 April 2021 - 03:53 PM

We need some more information.

 

  • Will this be primarily be used by you but with occasional visits by others?
  • What sort of things do YOU like to look at?  Planets/Lunar? Double Stars?  Deep Sky Objects?  All of the above?
  • Visual or Astrophotography?
  • Where do you live?
  • What type of telescopes do you prefer (if any) - Reflectors? Refractors? SCT?
  • Budget?

All of these items will influence what type of scope(s) you want to install , what type of observatory you need and how big an observatory you will need.

 

Colin



#4 bobzeq25

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Posted 24 April 2021 - 04:17 PM

Most people don't heat observatories, scopes/mounts can tolerate cold well.  And it complicates life, needing to get it to temperature to work.  If you're fancy you may have an adjoining heated room, it requires care so as not to generate thermal instability that creates turbulent air.

 

Most people build piers instead of concrete pads.

 

You'll want Internet, somehow.

 

Consider just running everything off 12VDC.

 

This forum has lots of examples, spend some time reading.  The usual removable ceiling is a roll off roof, actually removing the roof of a building requires a crane.  Roofs are heavy.

 

Have you ever built a building?  It's an art, and an observatory is not what I'd start with.  You planning on doing it single handed?

 

These people sell plans, and build observatories.

 

https://backyardobservatories.com/



#5 macdonjh

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Posted 24 April 2021 - 04:17 PM

Taosmath is right, you've asked a very broad and complicated question.

For the building itself, an internet seach for amateur observatories as well as the Pist a Picture of Your Observatory thread on Cloudy Nights are great ways to get ideas about what features you'd like to have.

#6 Littlegreenman

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Posted 24 April 2021 - 04:48 PM

Check legal issues in general and in a given location, such as zoning. Doing that before day dreaming about the end result, let alone building something, might avoid some major disappointments.

I got into the hobby in my mid 40's. 25 years later I wish I had built an observatory. The hurdles at the time seemed too large. Going over hurdles often leads to major rewards.


Edited by Littlegreenman, 24 April 2021 - 09:45 PM.


#7 starmaze

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Posted 24 April 2021 - 07:54 PM

We need some more information.

 

  • Will this be primarily be used by you but with occasional visits by others?
  • What sort of things do YOU like to look at?  Planets/Lunar? Double Stars?  Deep Sky Objects?  All of the above?
  • Visual or Astrophotography?
  • Where do you live?
  • What type of telescopes do you prefer (if any) - Reflectors? Refractors? SCT?
  • Budget?

All of these items will influence what type of scope(s) you want to install , what type of observatory you need and how big an observatory you will need.

 

Colin

Thanks, primarily used by me initially. Hoping that over time it can grow to include others (but doesn't have to). I would want to look at planets as well as deep sky. Would want to focus on astrophotography. I only have an SCT, i think i'd have to get a good refractor for astrophotography. I'd have to buy land, so that is separate. Budget besides land could be as high as 100-200k.  


Edited by starmaze, 24 April 2021 - 07:55 PM.


#8 starmaze

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Posted 24 April 2021 - 07:59 PM

Check legal issues in general and in a given location, such as zoning. Doing that before day dreaming about the end result, let alone building something, might avoid some major disappointments.

I got into the hobby in my mid 40's. 25 years later I wish I had built an observatory. The hurdles at the time seems too large. Going over hurdles often leads to major reward

Thanks for sharing the perspective. Why do you wish you had built an observatory? Curious to see if my motivations are similar or different than you? Admittedly I haven't thought very deeply about it. It seems to me that it could be something I could bond over my children with, and a hobby I can grow old into. Make more friends. I like peace and quiet and staring at starry skies...so owning a few acres in darkish skies seems cool. Of course city-creep could shatter the dark sky over a few years, but then I could sell the land and move on. 



#9 mark77

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Posted 24 April 2021 - 08:36 PM

My observatory is a 15 foot dome above a 24 x 24 standard double car garage sized building.

 

The downstairs is a a shop and computer area and is heated.  I have R29 insulation in the ceiling and there is almost zero heat makes it up stairs.

 

It has been a HUGE project.  I broke ground November 2015 and the inside of the down stairs is about 95% complete.  The observatory itself has been finished and operational about 2 1/2 years.

 

I had a contractor build the building (shell only, no internals), the 4 1/2 ton concrete pier and the walls of the 2nd story, I have done EVERYTHING else myself.  The dome was built from scratch and it took 2 1/2 years working 30+ hours every week.

 

I havent kept real good track of costs, but I have at least $75,000 into it.

 

check out http://www.skychario...nstruction.html

 

It has been a huge project but huge projects come with huge rewards.

 

Mark


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#10 starmaze

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Posted 24 April 2021 - 08:40 PM

My observatory is a 15 foot dome above a 24 x 24 standard double car garage sized building.

 

The downstairs is a a shop and computer area and is heated.  I have R29 insulation in the ceiling and there is almost zero heat makes it up stairs.

 

It has been a HUGE project.  I broke ground November 2015 and the inside of the down stairs is about 95% complete.  The observatory itself has been finished and operational about 2 1/2 years.

 

I had a contractor build the building (shell only, no internals), the 4 1/2 ton concrete pier and the walls of the 2nd story, I have done EVERYTHING else myself.  The dome was built from scratch and it took 2 1/2 years working 30+ hours every week.

 

I havent kept real good track of costs, but I have at least $75,000 into it.

 

check out http://www.skychario...nstruction.html

 

It has been a huge project but huge projects come with huge rewards.

 

Mark

Wow, this is incredible! Congrats on the amazing project! The pictures are amazing. Kind of giving me pause as well, as I don't think I know nearly enough to pull this sort of thing off. 



#11 starmaze

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Posted 24 April 2021 - 08:49 PM

Want to request moderator to delete this thread. I didn't know about Observatories forum section (a moderator had moved my post here). I'll educate myself on this forum and post something more coherent later. Thanks for indulging me!


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#12 Tom K

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Posted 26 April 2021 - 06:47 PM

I, for one, look forward to seeing how all of this plays out! popcorn.gif



#13 DENISANNA

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Posted 17 May 2021 - 10:00 PM

hi Starmaze, not sure where you live but me, I'm from northern New Brunswick Canada an decided last year that my setting up and dismantling days are ending. I decided to purchase a Shipping container 20' (new), dividing it into 2 rooms, one the telescope room (8'x8' the other, a control and sitting room (12'x8'). My opening hatch (5' 6" x 5' 6"0 has a lid torsion box cover(to be installed) on spring loaded steel casters riding on parallel rails that is opened with a weather protected garage door opener. I intend to insulate (more in the control room) with shielded foam sheeting sealed with reflective tape covered with a luan panel painted with a primer coat and 2 coats of Midnight blue pearl finish paint. I've installed Inside 2 patio doors, one separating both rooms and the other on the open end of the container where I can close the steel doors, lock it up and not worry about anyone accessing my lair when not there. For temperature control, I've installed a 12" commercial (barn style) wall fan with a remote speed control and a 120V small space heater for the control room. I intend to build a control panel made out of aluminum sheeting where all control knobs/switches for all electrical, electronics and mechanical hardware. The telescope room will have a center pier (winged 10"dia x 75" cast steel pipe) with a level top adapter plate for my EQ-R-Pro mount. My project is 75% completed as I write this and hopefully by this mid summer it will be in service for my pleasure.

I did a lot of reading (forums) where I focused on the don't do items and found that pretty helpful in planning my project. I come from a small town and really peaked the curiosity of some of the villagers who hold no shame in their curiosity enough to come and ask me what am I doing ??? Most are amazed but I do get some that just don't get it and would rather think that either I'm in the midlife phenom or lost my marbles. When 90% completed, I will move it to our cottage for a better Bortles sky around (2) where hopefully will find my marbles.


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#14 Astrola72

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Posted 18 May 2021 - 09:56 AM

DENISANNA - Pictures, s'il vous plait? (Perhaps in a new thread).

 

Joe




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