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I and my girlfriend has come home from a one week travel at Malta, a small island in the Medeterranien Sea. About a mount before we go I came in contact with an amateur astronomer down there, Maurice. He invited me and my girfriend to visit him and his DIY built observatory.
The observatory is built on top of his house and it has a real dome.
If you find it interesting to read about it I have done a small report from our visit at the Malta observatory with photos:
The Raven and the Owl observatory, Malta.
After this visit it's hard to understand why we stay in Sweden where we live, when it's dark it's also very cold. We often have from -20 degrees to 0 degrees Celcius temperatures. Now adays we don't have many clear nights either.
I’m going to do a 1 or 2 month tour of Europe in my camper van this spring and I would like to visit a planetarium either in Europe or the UK, preferably avoiding London and Paris or other major cities with low emission zones.
I visited the planetarium in London when I was a child and thoroughly enjoyed it but I see it is now closed. I am planning to visit the space centre in Leicester on my way home which seems to get mixed reviews regarding having a lot aimed at children.
I was surprised at how many planetariums there actually are with a google search. Can anyone recommend one, or a good public observatory?
By Martin Perrett
After having my mind programmed into thinking that home observatories should be round or square I saw an article showing a triangular one. This altered my thinking completely. I had some plywood and other wood left from building my house so took a couple of days to build my observatory. The size was dictated by the tripod base and the movement of the telescope on the mount. I have a NEQ6 Pro and 8inch ACF. The first thing is to align the tripod along the meridian North South with the help of the sun's shadow and the time. This means that with the scope parked it takes up less room. The roof hinges over with the help of a counterweight (not shown on my first video) and the base of the observatory is a equalateral triangle about 5-5 feet high to allow the scope to see most of the sky. This setup allows for access to the scope but is really for remote viewing. The triangular base is approx. 6 feet on each side but the roof requires room on one side to be hinged over. The observatory can be built from 4 sheets of 18mm exterior grade ply and one sheet of 5mm marine ply for the roof and 3 4.2mtr length of 50mm by 100mm treated wood. The cost could be less than £200 if you can use some reclaimed bits. The video I made is about 20 minutes long and involved me thinking and working things out while building it. The triangular construction is much easier and stronger than a square or circular one. The design means I have the scope setup and ready for those short glimpses of clear sky while also able to try remote control of the scope with the roof closed. Since the first video I have put more hinges on the joint and a beam (made from hardwood I bought as an off cut) with a couple of old rail track plates used as counterweights. The next thing is to use a garage door opener to remote the opening of the roof.
So here is the link to the video. Please just see it as an example of what you can do, not as a 'this is the way to do it' video. If I was building it again it would be similar but better.
Just starting my build and found advice of others really helpful. Appreciate views of others on my build before I get too far. I am building the Observatory for My HEQ5 with a short fast refractor for imaging and my LX90 SCT mainly for viewing, so my pier must allow me to easily swap scopes if necessary.
Design principles and interesting features:
Basic design: Concrete Plinth + Altair Steel Pier + Off-the Peg Shed
Pier: I chose the Altos pier because it looked sturdy and allowed some final leveling and North orientation after installation. It has a variety of fixing options and adapters, plus I might move and could take it with me. https://www.altairastro.com/altair-skyshed-8-observatory-pier.html
Shed: Went for a 10 x 6 shed. Intend to build just a 6x6 roof, which will slide over the other 4 foot bit + 2 foot more. The four foot section will be the warm room with a flat roof. I can build the internal partition after the shed is erected. Wanted a Shed that could be easily adapted and found the "Rowlinson Premier Shiplap Apex Shed 6X10" Price: £514.99 inc delivery This is good quality, but the real bonus is that the apex sections are separate. You build the four walls at level height and then the two apexes go on the ends. This will allow me to then easily adapt the design by attaching rails to the bottom box section and then wheels to the roof bit. The shed sides are also slightly taller than a standard shed at 172cms giving me some welcome headroom. The roof comes in sections, so building just the 6 foot bit looks straight forward (In theory). It is worth shopping around for sheds as the same model can be different prices on different sites.
Wheels and Rail: I think this bit is neat, I am using a wooden slotted fence posts as the rails. Wheels: B&Q TENTE FIXED CASTOR 45MM product code 3700001799978 price £2.14 each rated as 40kg each and I am using 8 of them for a 6 foot roof Rails: B&Q NEVA HALF WOODEN FENCE POST 70X35X1800MM product 3663602942825 £7 each and I am using two on each side for a total length of just under 12 foot. I looked at Aluminium rails but during a wander round B@Q I found these wood posts with grooves in them. I tried the wheels in store and it looks fine. Added advantage that they can also form part of my Obs structure.
Pier base: As per Altair instructions a very large hole in the ground filled with concrete. However my base is a plinth that protrudes 35cm above the base level. I calculated the height needed to elevate the pier so that my tallest mount (The LX90) would just fit under the closing roof. If I had mounted the pier at ground level I would have reduced my min elevation angle to 60 degrees for my shortest scope/mount combination. With the extra height I get down to 25 degrees, less if I raise the pier head. The pier also has a narrow central hole, so I have run a cable in a 12mm pipe through the concrete block and up through the middle of the pier.
Shed Base: Paving stones laid after the pier is installed. I will run a 40mm pipe under the slabs to carry all the other cables to the pier.
Today I completed the first stage and poured the concrete for the pier base and plinth as per the instructions on the altair web site. The concrete goes 80cm below the ground and 45cm above, with a 10cm base that leaves a 35cm plinth. I used a wooden former to contain the concrete above ground. I made it of 9mm ply with screws every few inches. On top I attached a template holding the fixing bolts which were pressed into the soft concrete. Even so the weight of the concrete nearly burst the mold and I had to reinforce with paving slabs. See picture, but it looks fine now. See pictures)
I should add that I employed a local garden handyman to dig the hole and pour the concrete.
The next stage is to lay the slabs for the base. Any comments most welcome, especially as they could save me from an imminent disaster, but so far so good.