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Alan White

Just walls around an observing area?

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Has anyone built just walls around an observing area to block wind and stray lights?
This has gone through my mind as an option for visual only and not need such a robust build as an observatory.

Your thoughts and experience will as always be appreciated.

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The main reason for an observatory is to be able to keep your rig set up so it's ready to go as soon as the clouds part (yes it has been known!) with a roof to protect it from the weather.

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35 minutes ago, Alan White said:

Has anyone built just walls around an observing area to block wind and stray lights?
This has gone through my mind as an option for visual only and not need such a robust build as an observatory.

Your thoughts and experience will as always be appreciated.

That would work, but I have to agree with Gina's comment. 

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 @mikeDnight   has a lovely area. I've seen photos. I think it has a permanent pier and a patio area but no roof if my memory is correct.

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In the summer if the walls are made of (say) brick then I would expect that warm air currents would surround the scope as the brick transfers the stored heat to the atmosphere. But like everything its a trade off between what the issues you want to avoid vs the benifits

 

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46 minutes ago, Alan White said:

Has anyone built just walls around an observing area to block wind and stray lights?
This has gone through my mind as an option for visual only and not need such a robust build as an observatory.

Yes that seems to be quite a practical solution. Many people just stick a  protective cover over the scope to protect it from the elements. If there are electrics involved, or computers, then there is the need for a little more. Such as to prevent damp getting in an to stop rodents from chewing through cables (they seem to like plastic). And also to stop insects such as wasps from making a nest inside your optics.

Full blown observatories can attract bats. Since they are protected, you can't just shoo them away.

Edited by pete_l
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Tarpaulin sheets hung on strategically placed lines can be quite effective against streetlights, although not so much so against strong winds. Can be put up when required and do not obstruct anything (views or, in my case, front gate!) when taken down and not in use.

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50 minutes ago, Tomatobro said:

In the summer if the walls are made of (say) brick then I would expect that warm air currents would surround the scope as the brick transfers the stored heat to the atmosphere. But like everything its a trade off between what the issues you want to avoid vs the benifits

 

No intention of a brick structure, I live in Greenbelt, just, so Wooden fence would be the aim.

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9 minutes ago, Demonperformer said:

Tarpaulin sheets hung on strategically placed lines can be quite effective against streetlights, although not so much so against strong winds. Can be put up when required and do not obstruct anything (views or, in my case, front gate!) when taken down and not in use.

I had thought of temporary cloths,
but to be honest I don't want the hassle and time to put up, take down and dry off.

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1 hour ago, Alan White said:

Has anyone built just walls around an observing area to block wind and stray lights?
This has gone through my mind as an option for visual only and not need such a robust build as an observatory.

Your thoughts and experience will as always be appreciated.

Hi Alan,

For most of my observing life I've observed without an observatory, but I think it was in 2011 that my wife gave me the go-ahead for an observatory, which i designed as a run-off roof type. However, if you have a sheltered spot in your garden that shields you from neighbouring lighting, I'd say go for it! Even if there are annoying lights, you may be able to grow hedges or errect an attractive fence that will act as a shield, while keeping the boss happy. It's amazing how attractive a pier can be in a garden, Infact every garden should have one!  Failing that, a nice decking or patio area where you can place a tripod is a great alternative too. 

 

High hedges as demonstrated by paulastro.

20180831_162223.thumb.jpg.e273927aa3753e1d6eeaaeafeb9ce015.jpg

 

A permanent pier in my back lawn holding a Losmandy GM8 and later a G11, which carried my FS128 and FS152. The top of the pier stood about six foot above ground level then the mount was bolted on top. I used to observe directly through my refractors back then, hence the high mount.

post-41880-0-75082200-1433239196.thumb.jpg.618243346260fb3459774f8d4c5ef40a.jpg

 

I still love the advantages of a tripod though, as it enables me to move around the garden to get the best view of low targets hidden by high observatory walls.

My FC100DC on patio.

1862303625_2016-12-2022_56_49.thumb.jpg.f3e37cffebe0d570f7fb6fa27fefe758.jpg

 

Then when its bitterly cold, wet or windy, a high walled observatory can offer a dry, comfortable wind and light shield where charts and eyepieces and other equipment can be protected from the elements. 

963746114_2016-04-1318_27_07.thumb.jpg.6db993947e88dd182e89753028e12584.jpg

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39 minutes ago, Alan White said:

I had thought of temporary cloths,
but to be honest I don't want the hassle and time to put up, take down and dry off.

Sheets don't work! They get blown about by strong winds and can become dangerous to the equipment and observer. Conifers or a lat type wind break fence works well, as they can be very attractive when painted and are not generally affected by strong winds. 

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Thank you all so far.

I would love an observatory, but as much as I love my present home, it's not forever as it is part of my retirement plan to sell and downsize.
So building one here is probably a bit silly at present.

I have an area that I observe from and move about along it, the hedge is growing too slowly so a fence sounds the way to go.
No pier at present, just tripod to move about.
As a manual no power used, visual observer that works for me.

The best bit is no one said I was mad in my thinking.  😁

Edited by Alan White
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39 minutes ago, Alan White said:

I would love an observatory, but as much as I love my present home, it's not forever as it is part of my retirement plan to sell and downsize.
So building one here is probably a bit silly at present.

I made my ROR obs'y using a Keter plastic shed with the idea that if I ever moved house it's only an hour or twos work to flat pack it for transport, doesn't look likely now though.

Only 6X6 but big enough as long as you haven't got a 12" newt'.

Can be erected by one person easily in a weekend and once up can be modified at your leisure whilst using it and now the price of timber has rocketed it's maybe a third or less the price of building from scratch and they come up regularly second hand on various auction sites, just needs a square of paving slabs to stand on.

There are a few folk on here using them and you don't even need to convert it to ROR as the roof is light and can be lifted off for use then lifted back on and bolted down with the original fixings so completely weather tight.

Had mine for quite a few years with no UV deterioration or leaks, just power wash it once a year to remove green algae.

Dave

Edited by Davey-T
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1 hour ago, Alan White said:

Thank you all so far.

I would love an observatory, but as much as I love my present home, it's not forever as it is part of my retirement plan to sell and downsize.
So building one here is probably a bit silly at present.

I have an area that I observe from and move about along it, the hedge is growing too slowly so a fence sounds the way to go.
No pier at present, just tripod to move about.
As a manual no power used, visual observer that works for me.

The best bit is no one said I was mad in my thinking.  😁

Youre definitely not mad! :icon_geek:

Have you ever read "Starlight Nights, The Adventures of a Stargazer" by Leslie C Peltier? The chapter called Cow Pasture Station should inspire you!

The book is a great read if you can find a copy. (Cows are optional)!

1375943948_2019-01-2018_19_29.thumb.jpg.498441a2b6462f55719a88969a4ffdf8.jpg

 

 

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WOW - lots of clear skies!!

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37 minutes ago, mikeDnight said:

Have you ever read "Starlight Nights, The Adventures of a Stargazer" by Leslie C Peltier? The chapter called Cow Pasture Station should inspire you!

Indeed, a must read Mike. Later in the book, Leslie Peltier comments that when he did get an obsy, he sometimes missed the direct contact with his external world that the cow pasture station afforded. I know what he meant, although I also appreciate the protection given by my dome!

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12 hours ago, mikeDnight said:

Sheets don't work!

I wasn't suggesting "sheets". But a tarpaulin can be threaded through a line hung between two posts and tied off at the bottom. I also stated that it was not so good against the wind, but it is basically no more "dangerous" than being in a tent. I appreciate OP's comments about not wanting the hassle and that is a valid choice, but I can assure you that the procedure I outlined does work.

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I tried middleweight tarpaulins on my octagonal observatory walls to give me some shelter during construction.
Stapled them to death and still they came away from the 4x4 posts within a few days.

My neighbour has a hobby of putting up panels on posts and watching them blow down.
I suggested cross bracing across the tops of his posts but he thought that might spoil his fun. Or start a chain reaction! :huh2:

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Tarpaulin sheets are hellish noisey too. They just act as a sail and the threading eyes get torn in very short time. Ugly too!

Vertical, horizontal or 45° angled lath design fencing is virtually wind proof. If the lath's are stepped on opposite sides of the posts they act as an effective wind break as well as an effective light shield. They also have the added advantage of acting as a great climbing frame for sweet peas etc. The wife will love that!  If designed as a hexagon or octagon structure you could create a very attractive pergola style observing area. The wife will love that too!

Although coloured wood stain looks nice, it needs regularly repainting. I found Red Iron Oxide paint to be vastly superior (if you like red!), as it effectively coats the wood with iron and lasts for years. When green limbers or other plants are set against the red rusty timber, the red acts as a terrific backdrop making the plants stand out. Your wife is really going to love you now!! :wub:

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I have thought of constructing screens.  There is a conflict one has to solve - a low screen does not block out annoying lights etc.  A high screen blocks out the view of low planets and other objects.  Also, a flimsy screen will come adrift in high winds - I have had a wooden panel blow out from between grooved concrete posts.  So I have left this idea at the design stage.   An observatory with a rotating dome would solve these problems but for me seems too expensive and too permanent.

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7 hours ago, mikeDnight said:

I found Red Iron Oxide paint to be vastly superior (if you like red!), as it effectively coats the wood with iron and lasts for years. When green limbers or other plants are set against the red rusty timber, the red acts as a terrific backdrop making the plants stand out. Your wife is really going to love you now!! :wub:

Wow, I never thought of that.

Living in Bahrain, any outside wood looks a million years old within about six months, I have tried paint, wood stain, teak oil (attracted thousands of small bugs)...the lot , this could be the answer!

Do you have any photos to show the effect?

Sorry to go off topic 😕

I have big problems here with LP and have used fold-up  plywood screens attached to 1 meter fence panels around my roll-off shed in the past, it worked very well.

 

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2 hours ago, MoonNut said:

Wow, I never thought of that.

Living in Bahrain, any outside wood looks a million years old within about six months, I have tried paint, wood stain, teak oil (attracted thousands of small bugs)...the lot , this could be the answer!

Do you have any photos to show the effect?

Sorry to go off topic 😕

I have big problems here with LP and have used fold-up  plywood screens attached to 1 meter fence panels around my roll-off shed in the past, it worked very well.

 

I'll try and get some pics for you tomorrow if the weather is fine. ☺

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Wooden panels are acceptable outdoor "furniture" under most circumstances.

Moreover,  they have a rather neutral attitude to the sun's heat.

They neither absorb heat nor release it over the following hours. [Like bricks and blocks do.]

Staggering vertical planks on either side of the panel provides a draught and reduces the sail effect.

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Thanks Charic 👍
Fence panels is my present thinking,
but need to think further as it is not a observing area at the side or end of the garden.

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