[Barry Armstead] is an astronomy enthusiast who built his own observatory in his front yard, in Canberra, Australia. It was a fine observatory as home-made observatories go, but he describes it as being small and cramped. His replacement was on an entirely different scale though, a building created by hand and which no doubt many readers would be pleased to own.
His design started with a cardboard model, and has a downstairs room upon which sits a rotatable dome with two sliding sections to form the observation window. The original observatory’s concrete pillar on which the telescope mount stood remained post-demolition, and a larger concrete pad was laid. There followed the assembly of a steel frame with a skeletal dome able to rotate on rollers, followed by cladding with steel sheet. The dome cladding was done in segments marked against the dome steelwork and cut to shape.
The final building has a fully finished interior downstairs, plus a rustic staircase to the upper deck. The concrete post has been extended, and now carry’s [Barry]’s telescope which he controls not with his eye clued to an eyepiece like the astronomers of old, but from a computer at the adjacent desk. The full construction details are on the observatory’s web site, though since it seems in danger of disappearing due to an expired hosting account we’ll also give you a Wayback Machine link direct to the relevant page. Meanwhile he offers a tour in a video we’ve placed below the break. Even a non-astronomer would find this an asset in their garden!
Continue reading “An Astronomical Observatory For Your Front Yard”
With a little help from their friends [Jeff Fisher] and his dad built this observatory in their back yard. Their use of simple building materials and techniques show that you can create a respectable home observatory without breaking the bank.
It starts with a footing for the telescope mount. This is completely separated from the building that surrounds it so there will be no issue with vibrations affecting the images it is capturing. From there a foundation made of cinder blocks was laid before placing joists and installing a sub floor. It was during this process that they trenched and placed conduit to run power to the building. With the floor in place the walls were stick built and a carefully crafted dome was assembled and hefted in place by this septet of gentlemen.
Four months was all it took to get to this point, but [Jeff] and his dad are still working on a deck to go around the observatory. They’re using a very nice telescope that they purchased, but it is also possible to build one of those yourself.
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.
In the Russian city of Barnaul, some enthusiasts are gathering their resources to revive a home made telescope and observatory. Built by [Mikhail Levchenko], in the mid 70’s, the telescope is quite impressive. [Levchenko] kept his hobby somewhat of a secret so as not to arouse the suspicions of his neighbors, but its pretty hard to hide a tower as tall as a house with a domed observatory on top. The telescope itself has a 16 inch glass lens that provides 500x magnification. His hobby would turn out to have a pretty big impact on the town. People would come to him hoping that his telescope could tell their fortunes. Not a believer in horoscopes, he tried to educate people with lessons in astronomy and physics. One man was said to have given up drinking after seeing Saturn.
[Levchenko] passed away in 2002 and his observatory fell into disrepair. Local thieves tried to steal pieces for scrap and the whole structure has sunken somewhat. Some of those who were inspired when young by [Levchenko] have decided to renovate it for the eclipse. Barnaul will be a prime location for viewing. The total renovation and possible relocation will cost around 2 million dollars.
In the past, we covered a high powered telescope made by some girl scouts, and this $40 USB telescope looks fun too.