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My astronomy project:
Building an Observatory
(or a playhouse for big boys)


Making of an Observatory

  1. Introduction
  2. From wood to observatory, bottom frame
  3. Corner poles
  4. Lower protection panel
  5. Swedish red color panel
  6. Snow and water protection
  7. Stairs to heaven
  8. Building the roof frame
  9. Building the door
  10. Building the hatch

1: Introduction

For us who are interested in astronomy photography there has always been a dream to have somewhere to have the mount permanently setup.

Some of the reason are:
In a fixed place you don't have to polar align the mount.
The equipment is normally very heavy and it's not safe to climb up on hills with it. You can broken your legs or damaged your equipment.
You save a lot of time in every observation/photographing.

At our summerhouse we have a small hill that is perfect for a observatory. Previously, we had a children play house here, but it was very old and had rot in the wooden frame. The new house will still be a play house, but now for older boys and girls, almost exactly the same dimension. It's just 30 kilometers away from a big city so it's not perfect dark but much better than in city of course.

I have collected a lot of leftover materials under the year and we also have materials left from our summerhouse project. I try to reuse as much material from other projects as possible so this is a green environment project. Here I will show you how I have constructed the observatory house, it's a very minimal house. But there isn't any need to be inside the observatory, it shall just hold the telescope and it's peripherals.

It's just my own ideas adapted to what equipment I have and the place where I have it. I don't take any responsibility for it. You must construct your observatory for your own needs!

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2: From wood to observatory, bottom frame

Bottom frame

The pier is already in place, it's not a flat surface under it but it's rock so no problem with ground stability. Here are my wooden studs that will make up my bottom frame. They are 1.95 meter long and 45 x 70 mm wide, maybe a little bit weak for some parts but that's what I have too work with. And it's better with many small ones than a few heavy ones.

One of the corner poles

Here are the first pole in the corner bolted together. The angles must be exact 90 degrees.

The bottom frame in place and one corner pole.

All corner poles in place. Maybe I cut off the legs later and replace it with stronger 100 x 100 mm wide legs.

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3: Corner poles

Now I have come to the part where I need to stabilize the poles, they must be hold in exact position.

Stabilisation studs

Here are the poles bolted together in the bottom end only. This was my first attempt, later I have cut the poles down to let the telescope reach lower altitudes. Maybe I can come down to about 30 degrees above the horizon.

Leveling frame

Before bolt the upper end together you must have the frame in level, I used a spirit level and adjusted the base like this. There are two wedges that you put together or apart.

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4: Lower protection panel

I live in Sweden and some years we can have a lot of snow in the winter. The lower end of the panel need some protection from snow.

Lower panel

At the lowest 0.3 meter I have used plywood as a panel. I will protect it from water/snow later.

Lower protection panel

In the beginning I will us my EQ6 mount, it will just reach the rim of the upper frame.

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5: Swedish red color panel

Have your heard about the famous red color (Falu Rödfärg) that our old house and still today in Sweden are painted with? Well, I will used it on the observatory to let it fit in with the other red houses here.

Red panel

Red panel and the door opening to the left. The red panel is a donation from my girlfriend :-)

The red panel and the weather protection. One red panel is 0.1 meter high so you get the proportions.

The backside and it's here the roof will slide down.

From the inside and the door, the door height is only 0.8 meter and 0.7 meter wide. To the right is the opening towards south. I'm not sure if I did it right here, should I had a plastic film inside of the panel to get a more dust controlled environment inside? Or will it just give me humidity problems inside?

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6: The hatch towards south

I want at least reach the horizon in one direction and this hatch is in the direction of south. Maybe when I start to build the roof I will have part of it connected to this hatch.

This hatch will tilt all the way down later, it lower the rim with 0.2 meter and that's what needed to reach the horizon. We have the planets at highest position i south. I'm not very interested in planets and today my telescope isn't built for that purpose, but maybe it will be in the future.

Hatch in closed position, maybe I will have it titled in future and mount a solar panel on it. Then I can charge 12 volts batteries and then I don't have to be connected to the power grid.

The slope of the roof must be enough to let the snow fall off. The roof surface will be of plastic material so the friction will be low.

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7: Stairs to heaven

How does it look from downside?

This is my stairs to the top of the hill and my heaven. Not so easy to climb up here in the dark and winter with all snow. Now at least I don't have to move the heavy mount up and down the hill.

I will come back with the roof construction later.

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8: Building the roof frame

Today I will build the first step of the roof. I'm starting with the framework that holds everything up.

Observatory, Lower part of sidewalls to roof

Here is the lower part of the sidewall of the roof in place. The hatch to the right will be modified to fit my new ideas.

Observatory, Upper part of sidewalls to roof

The upper part of the sidewall of the roof.

Observatory, cut the roof in two parts

As you can see I have divided the roof in two parts, each part will be smaller and lighter and the observatory house will get a nicer look I hope. When roof is finished I will cut the roof apart with a saw.

Observatory, reinforce sidewall

Now it have started raining as it normally does in Sweden. Sorry, no outside view photos because I'm was in hurry to protect the building from rain. But under the weather protection I could work further. Here has the upper part of roof come in place. Because one side of the roof is open I have to reinforced it. At the same time I want it to be as light as possible. Here has one diagonal stud come in place.

Observatory, reinforce corner

Even the corners of the roof are reinforced.

Observatory, reinforce front division

Another reinforcement, but this one will be replaced with some other construction. I need the space around here for the lift construction of the roof. To the left you can see the beginning of the new hatch design, now it will be joined with the front part of the roof as one unit.

Reinforce legs

Another reinforcement, the long legs to the left have to be reinforced, a diagonal stud fixed that.

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9: Building the door

New weekend and today it's time to build a door to the observatory.

The first par t of the frame to the door

Here is the first part of the frame for the door with its hinges mounted.

Observatory door frame

Now the frame is finished and it's time to mount the panel.

The white door panel

When we did a renovation of another house we got some used white panels left over. Just cut the bad part away from the end, a new paint will later make them as new.

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10: Building the hatch

Last time I was so in hurry to cover the building that I didn't had time to take photos.

Observatory, making of the hatch

Here how it looks when I left it last time. Today I going to build the hatch.

Observatory, making of the hatch

First I need some locking mechanism to the roof and hatch, later I maybe ad a motor to open hatch and roof. This eccentric lock is adjustable, it looks maybe a little bit weak, but this is just for the small south part of the roof.

Observatory, making of the hatch

The hatch much have a hinge, you can see it here, just left to the red panel.

Observatory, making of the hatch

I need to lower the hinge and the stud it's attached to. Also cut openings in the panel for the hinges.

Observatory, making of the hatch

Here is the stud that has to be lowered.

Observatory, making of the hatch

First hinge attached.

Observatory, making of the hatch

Just two hinges will not be enough, I will ad a third one in the middle, and that one will be mirrored to lock the hatch to not move in sideways.

Observatory, making of the hatch

First opening of the hatch!

Observatory, making of the hatch

Now I have attached the hatch to the south part of the roof. I also added another red panel.

Observatory, making of the hatch

Now it's time to separate the roof in two parts. Will the roof hold together or fall apart?

Observatory, making of the hatch

The cut operation was a success!

Observatory, making of the hatch

Here I have planted tiny small green plants. The idea is that those small plants will grow to two meters height to the next summer. The purpose is to have a wind protection and also make the observatory invisible. I have also cleaned the rock from all other green stuff.

Observatory, lock roof

To the roof I use a bigger version of the eccentric lock.

Observatory, lock roof

The backside lock.

Observatory, counter balance weight

Here where the letter "A" is I will place a counter balance weight and a chain to lock the hatch in open position.

White Corners

Added white corners to get it look like an old Swedish house.

White Corners White Corners

I have not find a roof to the observatory and now the winter are coming.

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