My Home made backyard "domed" observatory!



With failing health issues I wanted a place where I did not have to worry about lugging equipment out to an observing site, setting everything up with great detail for photography, and then at the end of the night taring it all down again. After searching the backyard for the perfect location I found several, some would give me access to only the western sky, some only the eastern sky and then this location that gave me the largest chunk of Eastern sky with a good view of the Southern sky. Trees to the North and Trees to the West but any sky is better than none at all!

The next three images show the observatory and its "dome" in operation, The radio astronomy dish antenna, and some other construction material scattered around I never picked up.

The land has a slight incline to the west which had to be leveled off, this was done in just over a day using a shovel and a bit of sweat. An extra day to dig a five foot hole for the concrete pier. Then came some 6 mil plastic sheeting for a moisture barrier eight treated 4x4 posts cut at 22.5 degrees at each end and laid end to end to create an Octagon for a foundation. Next were 2x4's and plywood for the base walls and dome. Some fixed direct caster wheels to alow for dome movement which was done manually by walking outside, grabbing the handels (one on each flat) and turning.


The Beginnings;

4x4's cut to length and cut at 22.5 degrees so that two put together would be 45 degrees and from one flat to the other side flat would be eight feet, just large enough for a walkway around the scope and some shelves/cabinets on the perimeter. Here I'm using my first scope tripod (Orian ST130 with an EQ2 mount) to see how much room I have. My original plan was not to build a pier but to just setup a tripod inside the observatory. later I realized it would be far too easy to knock the tripod around screwing up my polar alignment so I opted for the pier.


The Concrete Pier

The best place for the observatory was a few feet too close to the neighbors yard. If things went to plan I'd have a nice sky starting from the NE and around through the East on to the SW. But, Because of Zoning laws I had to move West a few feet closer to some trees ging me a NW to SSW. Though the larger the sky area to view the better, I accepted the move. Besides eliminating a small portion of the sky this also put me into a foot high hill to dig through to make the floor level. After doing this I dug a four foot hole, placed a ten inch diameter by 10 foot Sonotube form and poured my concrete inside. While the concrete was curing I layed and attaching the 4x4's I fitted and cut some plywood for the floor. What I stupidly didn't account for was the weight of the concrete inside the top half of the tube which ended up tilting the tube a few degrees off level. The image shows this mistake.


The Scope!

This is an early Meade LX90 W/Enhanced Multi-Coatings which is a 20.3cm F/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain. Piggybacked is a 50mm finderscope and an Orian ST80 refractor guide scope. Also pictured is a 12.5 Illuminated reticle in the SCT and a dew heater on the fork, and six - one pound weights under the optical tube.


I have spent a few years playing with camera's and spectrographs, and what nots and this observatory has done its job! Here are a few images done with this setup I can share with you..My Space Images