Another Great Backyard Observatory Build

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.

[via Reddit]

11 thoughts on “Another Great Backyard Observatory Build

    1. I’ve had a dream of owning an old 5-6 story multi-family in the city with a flat roof and building a domed observatory on top. It’s completely impractical and would probably result in a multitude of problems ranging from vibration and movement of the building, to the obvious light pollution hurdles… but it would still be pretty damn cool.

  1. Very nice build. Everything looks well crafted.

    Looking at the conduit, it looks like there is Orange Romex with some other wire coming out of the same conduit. It is not to code to have the Romex in the conduit. ONLY THHN and suck type wires. The Romex can overheat in the conduit. What were the other wires? Hopefully all AC line voltage and no low volatile or cat 5. That is a big no-no to put high voltage and low voltage together in the same conduit.

    Other wise the build looks great. Are there any hurricane straps that will hold down the roof?

    1. HA! I love it. I was thinking the same thing when I saw their trench. Doesn’t look deep enough to be code. But I only know this because I laid my own underground conduit without any help only to later find out all the codes I broke :(

      1. I wonder if it is hooked up to GFCI breaker?

        It always makes me cringe to see people who have pools with no GFCI breaker. That is an accident waiting to happen. The other is when Utilities pull in overhead power service to the house over pools. They are breaking the rules. It is a GO 95 violation. Every time I see that I let the home owner know to call the utility and make them move it because it violates GO 95 rules. It may take the Utility a year or so, but 99 percent of the time the Utilites fix the problem and eat the cost. Some Utilities just don’t care. They are so big and self-insured, that they think the rules don’t apply to them.

  2. I once knew an engineer in the process of building his own observatory and he had done the design calculations modelling the resonances in the 6inch round cement filled steel pipe and had determined the placement of three shock absorbers at 120 degree spacing circumferentially to critically damp the vibrations of the mounting column.
    Probably more of an issue as field of view decreases with increasing power.

    1. Probably more a case of over engineering. Their scope looks around 1.4m in focal length. As someone who gets very sharp photos with a 2m focal length scope attached to a modestly (comparatively) $1000 mount I don’t think you need anywhere near that effort for what they are doing.

  3. I opted to put up my own yard light rather pying the power company X dollars a month. I wanted to turn it off if I wanted to take a peek of the night sky, but not much I can do about the one a neighbor had put in 400′ away. When I was able to earn good oilfield wage I always thought this would be something I’d want to do, but highly unlikely now.

  4. I am currently interviewing people who have built small observatories in preparation for creating a book for the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada on the subject of small observatory projects. Would you be willing to speak to me about your observatory project? My centre is in the process of completing its own small observatory: You can check out our progress on our web site:
    Regards, Charles Ennis
    Media Director, Sunshine Coast Centre, Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

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