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Help With Observatory


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OK, I've had enough of setting up my scope and polar aligning the thing, only to have to take it all down again after a long observing session! I haven't done any observing for months as I'm overworked, tired and getting old! So I've decided to build (or at least get my hubby to build!) an observatory. My scope is a Skywatcher 200P on an HEQ5 Pro mount.

I need to know:

1. The best position

2. The cheapest build

I have a medium-sized garden that has views in all directions except west, where the house is. I have a few trees but they're not huge. One is in the south but I get reasonable views.

I've attached a rough plan of my garden. The little circles are trees. And I've positioned the obsy where I normally put my scope. Is this an OK position?

I don't want my scope to be permanently placed in the obsy as I still want to take it places.

Has anyone got a simple, easy-to-build, reasonably cheap construction plan for an obsy?

Alexxx

Garden.doc

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You are most likely to want to look east and south so I would be tempted to put the obsy nearer the north of the garden BUT I don't know how trees etc will influence your decision. I would suggest going out with a camera and taking a 360° panorama from one or two sites and then having a long hard look at the "problems" of each - If you just stand outside and look you won't see the same thing! (sounds daft but 'tis true!) Also you MUST take the photo's from the height of your mount NOT eye level - makes a huge difference!

As to the obsy itself you really need to set a budget before you decide what to do. You could follow the recent S @ N article which showed how to build just a fixed pier (and still have to take the scope in and out!!) or go for a self build of some sort of shed with / removeable roof construction. A lot will depend on how "handy" you are.

I reckon that the cheapest built job would be a shed with a roll off roof. If built properly (which is not actually that expensive) it should last at least 10+ years. You will need a base too - concrete is much the cheapest! to start with.

Don't skimp! as money wisely spent now will save you in the long run!

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Hi Alexx, the height of the sides actually hide the street lights so not a problem. If I do go down low I am actually into a lot of light pollution so I know the limits of what I can do and see. The apex of the roof actually hides a street light at the bottom of the garden so a blessing in disguise.

The orientation of the shed is east giving me a north to south view, a tree behind hides me from the houses southwards. Another thing I have done is install solar panels to charge all the batteries, the only piece on mains supply hopefully will be the security lights. As said I am adding all the time, I think I now spend more time between there and the workshop only entering the house to eat and sleep, SWMBO is happy :)

Jim

Edited by The Sailor
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Its a combinaton of things - High sides are no problem if the mount is also high - it's all relative. But then what is high? Mine, for instance is a pier of about 1m with an HEQ5 on top so around 1.4m (4'6" in old money) so I can't reach the eyepiece of the 200P when it points at or near the zenith - I have to use a small step. However I hardly ever look in that direction! There is no problem with the refractor or the Mak-Cass.

The obsy walls are over 5'6" so I have a horizon that is deliberately about 15°-20° above the real one - this was carefully chosen so as to block the neighbours house lights - a very good design point, even if I say so myself! This also stops me trying to observe through the worst of the low atmosphere!

One thing I did do when designing mine was to make an angle measurer - (just a printed protractor from the web and a garden cane) - and used this to determine the heights of various obstacles around my own garden - Don't worry, no need for maths etc! it just gives you a good idea of what you can or can't see in various directions. Don't forget the sky "rotates" so things will come and go into places where they are visible or not.

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Bizibilder, good one, there is one thing I did pick up on and that was the angle measure part. One of the things I done after a tip from someone on here was to take a 360° panoramic photo from the point of my OTA attachment to the mount. This I then inserted into Stellarium and used as my background thus seeing what is visable. I have to say I done this for the pier in the yard and have not yet got aound to doing it for the obsy but it worked very well.

As for height, well my pier is about 5' 3", then the mount on top will bring it to a point where I can see a lot from the floor position and low level I have a step on the pier. The zenith is perfect with a 45° diaognal :)

Jim

Edited by The Sailor
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The smallest structure possible is a fully roll off shed which then doubles as an 'office' for imaging, charts etc. They need only be the size of your scope. I've made three. Mine run on U-section rails and use DIY shop wheels. The framewprk I welded up but any local fabricator or decent mechanic will do that cheaply. They are clad in either ply or shed boarding. Ply is the easiest. Roof is corrugated galvanized steel sheet. They work simply and well and have been in service (the oldest at least) for 7 years.

There is a book by David Arditti called Setting up a Smal Observatory (Springer) in which mine and many others feature. It is worth a look.

Olly

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This is a great start. Thanks guys. I would have to get hubby to do the work as I've never done more DIY than painting!

I'll have a look at that book Olly.

I don't suppose there's anyone near Buckingham who could pop over and give advice?? For a couple of bottles of wine, or a box of beer, or lots of tea and nibbles, or stay for dinner or summat like that?!!

Alexxx

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Hi. I wish you well with your obsy construction. It is money very well spent. May I suggest you offer to take the wine and beer to other SGL members? But probably not me as i live a long way from you. Quite simply, if you take a look at other people's sheds, that is better (in my opinion) than reading.

Before embarking on my shed, I read a book or two about builds that were not really relevant to me. I managed to look at only one home build obsy. But that gave me ideas on a better roll off for the roof, and to make my shed bigger than 'the books' said.

If you buy a shed from a manufacturer, with a view to making the changes yourself, be careful. I did this and ended up spending a lot of money making additions, despite buying a decent quality shed.

Good luck.

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