I live in West Linn Oregon. We have very mediocre skies to say
the least, but I knew I wanted a larger portable scope, and my 14" was
a bit too heavy to carry around all the time. I also wanted to be
able to observe without taking the time to set up. But the main
reason I made my observatory, is I plan to do photography with
it. It takes so much time to set up to do photograpy, and great
results can be had from mediocre skies. I knew that if I had an
observatory, I would be able to do astro-photography much easier.
Well, this seems backwards, I have a 28" portable scope,
and a 14" permanently mounted scope, but really, this is good. I
use the 28 inch for
visual observing at dark sites, and my 14", which has a very solid,
accurate mount, I use for photography.
So, I decided to make an observatory. Local regulations are such
that a shed that is 120 square feet or less does not need a permit. So
guess how many square feet my observatory is? It's 10 feet by 12
feet, 120 square feet! This has proven to be adequate.
I wanted to make a rolloff observatory, but I wanted the walls to be
low enough to let me view down to 15 deg's or so. This means part
of the wall had to roll off with the roof.
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Here is a photo of my roll off roof observatory, taken from
the roof of our garage:
Here is a photo of the floor joists, before the subfloor was
installed. Notice the 3 concrete pillars that hold up the
telescope base (you can only see two of them in this photo).
These are isolated from the observatory. You may notice a lot of
trees in the background. My northern and eastern view have a lot
of trees. That is why the telescope is in the back corner of the
observatory. Since the telescope never points to the north or
east (because of the trees), setting the scope in the north east corner
gives me more room for other equipment, desks, walk around, etc.
The whole sky is visible from my observatory, it may mean you have to
wait until the object is in the open space!!
Here is a photo of me when I'm making the walls. The car on the
left is a 1957 Mercedeces 190 or also known as a "Ponton". I have
since sold the car, because I simply didn't have the time to resore
it. Notice that the walls are fairly short, so I can view close
to the horizon.
Here is a side view of the unfinished observatory. Notice
the concrete pillars. I used furnace ducting as a form. I
didn't get the concrete pilings for the 4X4's in quite the correct
place, so the 4X4's are a bit crooked. Oh well, after pooring
those pilings, I wasn't about to do it again, and nobody ever looks at
it from that angle (except squirrels and racoons!).
Here you see the framed roof. I fabricated it on our front
lawn. Instead of traditional 2X4 rafters, I used 1X4 cedar, to
I purchased some old roller blades at the goodwill, and removed
the wheels. I then cut slots in the cedar 2x4 to accomodate them.
Here is a close up photo. There are 5 wheels on each side.
We had a family get together at our house. Quite a few of my
sisters (I have seven) were here, and so I took advantage of all of the
people that were at our house. Here I am, along with 2 of my
sisters (on the left side), my brother in law Frank and my daughter
Christina on the right side.
One, Two Three, Lift!!!! There is a niece and a neighbor in
Ok, here the roof is on....
Here are some of the folks that helped lift it. Left to right:
Alexis (Niece), Cayla (Niece), Dan Gray (me),
Amanda (neighbor), Carolyn (sister), Christina (above Carolyn,
daughter), Gloria (sister), Rebecca (sister), Frank (Brother in law).
Here is a view a few weeks later from the garage roof. The
telescope is in place already.
Currently, this 14" scope has a stepper motor system which
controls it. It is a micro stepper system I created in the early
90's. I'm going to scrap this old control system, and
new Servo System Mel Bartels and
I have developed. I will do this as soon as I am finished with
Hand Controller. Then at some point, I
plan to make this telescope controlable from the internet.
I took a perfectly good door, and cut the top quarter off of
it. I then made two doors, out of the one door. I added a
hinge to the top part, so both doors have two hinges.
Here is a photo of our Guest house (to the left), our garage (in
the middle) and the observatory (on the right).
Here is a picture of the orion nebula I took with my Nikon DL100
camera. It is a stack of five 30 second, unguided exposures:
Here's the 1st quarter moon....