Father/son team goes big with backyard observatory

Oh that? It’s just the backyard observatory we built last summer. You know, for fun. This is a conversation we image [Kakon24] and his dad are having quite often these days. They’re astronomy interests just got a big equipment upgrade when they built a huge observatory on their homestead. Now we don’t proclaim to know a lot about observatory quality, but this is head and shoulders above what most people manage to acquire.

It isn’t a simple build either. It’s a full-fledged building of its own, starting with a poured foundation, then stick framing which was covered in stone work. The images tell the story of the build, but for information on the hardware you’ll want to read through the comments over on the Reddit Astronomy thread. Sounds like the scope itself cost over 100 grand so having a proper building to protect it is a must.

38 thoughts on “Father/son team goes big with backyard observatory

  1. Oh, looks like Ri¢hie Ri¢h got a new telescope. This is Romney-levels of disconnected above the pay grade of most H.A.D readers.

    1. Not sure what your point is? People fund their own projects every day, it’s a fact of life, this looks like it will be used for a research project of some kind, so whilst it may seem above the pay grade of most people, it’s actually giving something back and if you study hard at school, you might one day get your hands on one for free.

      Whilst being an amateur astronomer, I would dearly love to own one of those, as an average hackaday reader, it’d be a waste, way above my brain grade :)

    2. By that definition, the ISS isn’t a worthy hack, nor would someone building a 1/2 scale replica ducted F-15 kitplane. I beg to differ, as I love it when people do cool things, even if they’re above my pay-grade.

      PS – it’s not very well known, but “Casper the friendly ghost” resulted from richie’s suicide – caused (apparently) by the refusal of harvey comics to have an openly gay character.*

      * It’s not fact a day, so YMMV.

    3. Kinda agree with the OP there: check the pictures. 4 professional builders with cranes paid to build a tower, in which they mount a very expensive off-the-shelf telescope. So not a father-son project (unless you mean “daddy funded”), and not a hack (unless tightening few bolts from a bought kit and setting up a PC counts as a hack).

  2. Fantastic build, quite fitting for a 100k scope :)

    A lot of the much much more modest ones are a simple wooden design, like a large shed with a roll off roof but nearly all of them start off with a large pour of concrete, as the most important part of the observatory (apart from the roof) is the base it’s all sitting on, if you don’t get rid of vibration, it doesn’t matter how expensive the build was it will ruin your observations :)

    1. My neighbor did this. He has an concrete anchored floor that the telescope sits on and then another floating floor around it to walk on so he can take timed exposures that aren’t affected by vibration.

      1. Seems like that is the case here as well, only well above ground. So the telescope sits on a concrete pillar, disconnected from the floor and walls around it.

  3. Sheesh, will you HAD guys please shut off your spelling checkers and actually read what you’re putting on the page!

    …”we image” = we imagine
    …”They’re astronomy” = Their astronomy

    You guys are editors and the least you can do is proof read what you write, even if it’s only a quickie.

    1. I’d say the HAD editors are on par with the average community college instructor.

      But seriously, just give up on this – there is no use trying to fix this by commenting, as better men than you and I have tried scolding and ridicule, and failed miserably.

      On average, it takes two to three years for the average HAD editor to discover that the apostrophe isn’t shorthand for “look out! here comes an S!”, and three to four years to master the wiley homonym. That’s better than many sites.

      I’m not sure that mastery of the other parts of speech will even be possible within our lifetimes – after all, if you ain’t got it down by 17, you ain’t gonna ever get it.

      I believe that the modern school of publication standards for “teh interwebs” is adopting the chinese literacy model – all you need is 2000 words and a determined look while you mash the keys on the keyboard.

      I’m OK with that. It’s reasonably close, and they keep posting articles, many of which are rather interesting. It’s an acceptable compromise, on the whole.

      Besides, if community college homework assignments are any indication, you can get an MA in education and never learn these things. I have seen history and science tests handed out by teachers who apparently mastered the english language by using twitter.

      In comparison, I think the HAD editors are essentially masters of their art form.

      1. Boston Ground Zero, until I flew the coop.

        Someone will get the joke. Anyway, I did fairly well (in english) until a combination of e.e., e.e.cummings, a young lady named cummings, [nsfw continuation of the predictable sequence], and the rather unfortunate purchase of a vintage internal combustion driven velocipede and the subsequent discovery of what seemed to be super powers… but turned out to be normal post-adolescent hijinks resulting in a declining GPA and a raft of ribald tales.

        This experimental expedition resulted in a profound discovery – supplemented by a hastily performed calculation made in a physics lab appeared to correspond to a tenth of a point per conquest per week, confirming the later discovery of a gentleman named George Constanza.

        Ironically, my sonnet in the portuguese was even more spectacular than his, having been written in counterpoint and culminating in each discovering the other; this became a fugue, followed by a conscious decision to start over somewhere less volatile, as anyone who knows the peculiar joy of the moorish influence on the fair sex that drove henry cabot away from women and into the arms of cartography; He had much more in common with Will Smith than Columbus, anyway.

        Even more ironic was the discovery that one could do research sans doctorate, provided the problem was correctly formulated and tractable to the ordinary practitioner of the arts.

        Sadly, these days such performances would be less than exceptional, and are almost de rigeur at any ivy league college; They would now pale in comparison to the antics of normal freshman during their first quarter at Arizona State, but those were different days; We didn’t have E, and illicit substances were rather incompatible with the mathematics of the robo-thon lifestyle.

        I should point out that writing sans capitals has been validated by some of the most famous writers to disgrace the printed page since that rascal willy noted much ado about nothing – nothing being elizabethan slang for the inverse of t’aint (to parody the french) or the tangent of the asymptote (to parody the english).

        And finally, Pour Le Merit, or in english, for Gerrit: 30 points for the plight of the settlers, be it in the 18th, 19th or 20th centuries. It’s all the same thing, kopjie.

      2. I assure my fellow readers – Doctor Evil himself would have resorted to the same methods as these two, even if he would have later rubbed out the builders, dug a subterranean mini-golf course complete with carts and then kept a bevy of exchange students busy walking around in nehru jackets with matching haircuts.

        Maybe the readers are right – we need to get back to our hacker roots. Would anyone be interested in funding my kickstarter? I’ll need a box of knit head bands, a couple of medium sized nurse sharks, and two lithium battery powered Nitrogen TEA lasers. And an arduino, I suppose, for consistency.

    1. You sir are now the target of the grammar nazi party. You will be visited soon and taken to a re-education camp ;P

  4. This is beautiful, but as the gallery on imgur makes clear, this is not a “hack” in any sense of the word. These folks spent a very large amount of money to have an observatory built for them “the right way”.

  5. Correct me if I’m wrong, it’s not so much a hack as it is buying a telescope and paying for the observatory to be built is it not? Not saying it doesn’t have ultimate drool factor (including the yard of that home and what I would imagine that entire property to be as well). Maybe if I’m good in this lifetime I can accomplish such coolness in my next! ;)

    1. The typical astronomers put dewheaters on their scopes. For scopes like this and newtonians they only heat the rear mirror. For schmidt-cassegrains and refractor telescopes the dewheater is typically wrapped around the front element.

      Now that said I don’t see any dewheater or a dewshield on the guidescope. I’m not sure what they are doing but climate control goes out the window (literally) when the observatory is opened to the sky.

  6. Actually, it was built the wrong way. That external masonry looks really fine, but that is never done on a real observatory. The masonry will be giving off stored heat for the whole night. The warm air will rise and put distortions into the telescope images. This is clearly aesthetics over science! Duh!

    1. You, ah, ever toured any observatory built before WW2? Generations of astronomers have urinated on masonry walls; clearly these people are traditionalists.

  7. I’m doing a similar (in scale, not price) father and son project.

    I called up my local dealer and bought a Bugatti Veyron. My kid helped me take the stickers off.

    Feel free to link us… that is if it’s not too technical for HaD.

  8. Simply awesome! Not really a hack, but meh, still cool. I’d like to see just hacking using everyday things on HAD, but things like this are still cool to keep a good mix.

  9. Well, personally I think it’s cool when rich folks do stuff with their money besides screw poo folks. I’m sure they employed a lot workers to build that thing; and it looks like a great project.

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