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Rent an observatory?


Would you pay for use of an observatory in the countryside away from light pollution  

37 members have voted

  1. 1. Would you pay for use of an observatory in the countryside away from light pollution

    • Yes
    • No
    • Light pollution is not a problem to me

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I Have very little star gazing experience myself, so could do with some help from members here....

I live out in the countryside, far from light pollution and was wondering if any star gazers in nearby citys (full of light pollution) would be interested in paying a small amount for use of an observatory on my land?

It's an old farm in the new forest, southern england. I envisage an environmentally friendly building with log fire and internet connection, bookable online.

I am trying to diversify use of the land and wonder if this is something that might interest astronomers / stargazers? Is this a good idea, or a flawed one?

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I certainly would, but as an imager with some quite complex kit, I'd want an obsy that I had exclusive use of (I'm currently refitting my backyard obs, and it's taken 3 days so far to set up!).

What I'd really like to be able to do is rent some land and build an obsy on it.



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I am trying to diversify use of the land and wonder if this is something that might interest astronomers

Another idea might be to have a camping field specifically for the use of Astronomers, with hook ups and toilet/shower block. I think this might be in high demand as I know my Astro group has long been looking for a suitable dark site with facilities without having to share with non astronomers. You could hire it out to individuals or the whole field to a group at a time.

Prices would need to be in line with other camps though.

I'll watch this thread with interest.


Edited by carastro
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A good plan as far as astronomical interest is concerned, my reservation would be that the unreliable weather in the UK might make it tough to break even on the economics front.

I agree! Although any astronomer would love the idea of good facilities and dark skies how often it would get used would be down to mother nature. I would think as long as there was a large patch of land well maintained and with good drainage so it doesn't turn into a muddy field with grass knee high astronomer would be just as happy to pay a small fee for the peace of mind it can be used if and when the weather permits. If the land had some form of power & maybe a porta loo this would increase the interest but unfortunately I doubt it could ever become any kind of profitable business venture. If you had more of a genuine interest in astronomy and made accessible to some visiting astronomers the use of large telescopes then this would be a different matter as it is often impractical to just grab and go with large optical equipment. If you was to offer dark skies and 20" telescopes to get the best from those skies at a fair price while allowing astronomers with their own equipment to camp or visit the site then I think you could well get a return from your investment :)

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I run an astronomy gite-***-B and B in France at a very, very dark site. I find that a good part of my business comes from people who wish to bring their own kit to set up on prepared sites, so the market is there, I'd say. Quite a few regulars, notably from the Netherlands and Belgiun, come several times a year.

You do need to know what you're doing, though, in ensuring that they have the facilities that they need and the freedom to operate at strange times of the day and night!


Edit; Blimey, what a dirty mind this word filter thing has! I used a perfectly normal expression to mean Gite and/or B and B.

Edited by ollypenrice
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It comes down to "how much?" and I wouldn't be prepared to pay anything if it was cloudy :) I can watch the clouds well enough from my own house.

Can you get planning permission for buildings as you describe in the New Forest? I had the impression they operated a BANANA¹ policy to protect the area.

[1] Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything,

Edited by pete_l
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I think a majority of astronomers would prefer to bring their own equipment to an 'astronomy friendly' campsite rather than use other people's equipment (which takes training and time to get used to - not what you want to be doing when time is at a premium). Another way to look at it is this- only one paying guest will fit in an observatory, but a dark sky campsite could hold many happy astronomers.

Setting up an observatory is expensive- the money might be better spent on canp site facilities? Certainly in time, if there is enough regular custom an observatory might be the next step?

Good luck with your enterprise what ever you decide to do- there is certainly a demand for this sort of thing, especially in the highly populated south of England where dark skies are limited.

edit- not too sure about the log fire idea - cosy as they are the hot smoke & gas mix from the flue will wreck the 'seeing' if too near! We sometimes have two woodburners lit and you can see the stars 'dancing' in the hot air over the chimneys!

Edited by laser_jock99
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Well we have a little group that meets up in the new forest and while we probably wouldnt be interested in an observatory, we would be interested in somewhere safe to view from, if the price was right of course.. :)

Edited by shaunster
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Here is a example of the format I suggested AstroAdventures - Self Catering Astronomy Holiday in Devon UK which seems to be working but I see my suggestion didn't go down well. I guess I can see everyone's point. At least this way if you had land and facilities for campers if business was ever to slow due to poor weather and the lack of astronomers at least you could use it as a regular campsite for anyone and everyone.

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Interesting idea, but having to travel out would remove me from the home environment, wifey and kids would not be amused if i went off every other evening (HA some hope of the clear skies to do that).

Now if I was single and also had transport, Id probably have a bed and shower included :)

Edited by Earl
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Suspect that an observatory more or less on its own is not that good a business case. Asking here will get more yes's then no's.

The poll should have had an Occasional option in it. Yes/No is too polar.

Would someone in N Wales/Birmingham travel to the New Forest for a nights observing? Especially as 1 in 4 (possibly more) nights make observing impossible. If the London area was considered as catchment then you would have greater potential, but London to the New Forest is a 2 to 2 1/2 hour run easily, and that is from the M3 side of London. Seen the cost of fuel these days?

What scope would you install?

It seems that clubs these days have 12 and 14 inch ones as standard. Is the intention to offfer something like a 20"/0.5 meter as minimum?

The idea of a camping ground is possibly better and with a small observatory attached it would have a bit of the market that would be interested. But camping grounds need facilities as well. And the observatory would be a feature of the camp site. Do you intend to be available during the observation period? Who supplies help with whatever is in the observatory at 3:00 in the morning?

There are star parties that attract reletively large numbers, but they do not occur at the same place every week/weekend.

At a quick guess we have the SGL ones, Kelling Heath, Peak SP. So 6 I can recall easily over a year. Not enough for a business to survive on exclusively.

Also astronomy is not really heavily carried out during the summer, the evening barely get dark. The New Forest is better then the Galloway park as it simply remains light up there most of May, June, July.

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