Building an Observatory

Discussion in 'Astro Photography' started by Colorado CJ, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. Colorado CJ

    Colorado CJ Well-Known Member

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    Hey everyone.

    I am in the process of building a small observatory for my backyard. It will help me with astrophotography since I can keep everything set up and aligned, so I can do a lot more imaging.

    I am also going to make it somewhat portable. I will build a deck for the observatory to sit on, and a concrete pier for when I use it at home, and I am going to build a small trailer to mount the observatory to to take to dark sky sites and when I go camping.

    I am using a set of plans I found here: https://users.eoni.com/~garlitzj/geodome.htm

    I scaled down the measurements to make an 8' dome though and will be custom making my own base and also making a vertical sliding shutter.

    So far it is coming along nicely. I just finished constructing the base today. I have a lot of work to do on the dome yet (shutter opening). Once I finish building the dome it will be fiberglassed on the inside and outside.

    Here's a couple photos of it so far (very bad camera phone photos ;))

    [​IMG]


    Here is a photo with me inside to better show the size. I am 6'4" and made the base tall enough so I don't hit my head while standing against the wall. This made the top of the observatory just over 8' tall.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Ben Egbert

    Ben Egbert Forum Helper
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    This is really neat, and I am glad to see you and Alan showing us your skills.
     
  3. JimFox

    JimFox Moderator
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    Wow!!! So cool Andrew. That is really going to be great, and it will make it easier for your Astro work. Next time I am in Colorado we need to get together for lunch or just to see this. I bet Mike Lewis would be interested in this too
     
    Mike Lewis likes this.
  4. AlanLichty

    AlanLichty Moderator

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    An observatory on a trailer? You are going seriously hard core here Andrew :) I am curious to see where this goes.
     
  5. JimFox

    JimFox Moderator
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    Congrats on the Daily Featured Post Andrew!

    @Colorado CJ
     
  6. Mike Lewis

    Mike Lewis Staff Member
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    Andrew,

    Very glad you have shared this post here that I originally saw over on CN. As Jim said, it would be very fun to see this in person - it sounds like an amazing DIY effort, and one that should enhance your ability to take some great data once you have it finished!

    ML
     
  7. Kyle Jones

    Kyle Jones Moderator

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    So forgive the stupid question... What does the dome give you? How does it help the photography?
     
  8. Mike Lewis

    Mike Lewis Staff Member
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    Kyle,

    Domes enhance astrophotography in 2 major ways:

    1. Shielding you from stray light - That pesky neighbor's outside light can be blocked in most directions, at least partially mitigating its effect
    2. Shielding you from wind - Once you start taking multi-minute long exposures of the sky with high MP cameras, it doesn't take much wind to ruin a shot. Wind levels much above a light breeze can be a problem, especially for lighter duty tracking mounts or when using larger telescopes. And anything that makes your stars not look round can be an issue. variable winds in particular can be problematic. Of course here on the front range of Colorado, winds can be both variable and strong. Eventually, you stop worrying about your imaging and start worrying about your dome being blown off :) But in a number of cases with light to moderate winds, a dome approach can be the difference to still allow you to get some good subframes captured.
    Of course there is another reason for domes (and really any observatory building) - they tap into that primal 'really cool man cave' concept pretty readily too :)


    ML
     
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