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Here I am getting ready
for an observing session

Normally, I observe from an observatory in my backyard (see below).
Inside the observatory, I've built a permanent mount for my 10" SCT scope.

Unfortunately, I live just north of the large (1.5 million people) El Paso/Juarez metroplex. That means I get some pretty severe skyglow in the southern sky. So, several times a year, I travel to a dark sight for my serious southern viewing and photography.

One of the best things I ever did for my astronomy hobby was to build this observatory.   If I decide to observe, I can open the roof, power up the scope and be observing in less than 5 minutes.  It takes me about the same amount of time to close up at the end of the night.  Prior to building the observatory, it would take me almost 30 minutes to set everything up (another 30 if I plan any photography). I would then have to pack everything up for the night.  That would take another 30 minutes or so.

My observatory is a roll-off roof design. I chose this design because it is one of the simplest to design and build. It has the added benefit that it looks somewhat like an ordinary shed. I decided to build it rather large since I may want a larger scope some day. It is 12 feet square with the runners for the roof extending an additional 15 feet from the back side. The 4 walls are approximately 6 feet high and there is a lockable door on one side.

Why build a permanent mount?

  • Simplify and speed setup
  • No more polar alignment hassles (yeah!)
  • No tripod legs to kick in the dark
  • You don't have to carry the tripod to your observing site

Why build an observatory?

  • Shielding from neighbor's lights
  • Shielding from wind
  • Shielding from automobile headlights
  • No one can sneak up on you in the dark
  • Keeps the critters away