New Observatory

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The Woodlands Observatory  (Roll-off-roof shed Mark 2!)

The Woodlands Observatory

 I built my first roll-off-roof observatory back in 2001, pictures and a few notes can be found here: 
The Mount View Observatory

 In 2005 my wife and I embarked on a major house renovation project followed by moving in June 2006.

 In September 2006 I got permission from the boss (wife) to spend a few weeks building my new observatory.

 I had planned for the observatory right from day one of the house renovation. I knew what I wanted but of course it had to adapt to the house plans.

First of all our new location is on a steep down hill slope ending in a wood. Next the South elevation has a line of house roof tops and finally we had taken up all the suitable land with a house and garage!

 Thinking laterally, I decide the best idea was to hang a roll-off-roof shed on the back of the garage and utilise the last 1.2m of the garage as the observatory warm room. A slight issue is that the garage is built on the slope of the garden and is two storeys high at the back where I intended to put the observatory. I also wanted to maximise the sky I could see so the telescope needed to be mounted as close to the garage roof line as possible.

 One advantage of using 5% of the worlds concrete production on the house build was that the telescope pier could be poured at an early stage whilst access to the garden was easy. A ‘large’ machine dug the footing, say 1.5 tonnes and one of my builders who spent most of his life constructing concrete motorway banking made a very nice 0.5 meter square concrete pier that is 2.2m high.



Here are pictures of the pier footing, shuttering and the pier itself :-


Well, my builders continued their work and finally in June 2006 we moved into our renovated (re-built) house with is detached garage with strangely located door to nowhere…

 In September 2006 it was my turn to progress the observatory build.

 I was probably a little lazy in not wanting to make a entirely new roof and therefore I utilised the one from the old observatory. This saved time BUT had a heavy restriction on the size and position of the new observatory.

 Here’s a early picture of the construction :-

 As you can see I didn’t quite get the garage door in the right place! And since moving it would be a little problematic I decided to make the best of it by slightly offsetting the observatory structure.


 Things progressed well, however most of the design thought went into getting large and heavy items up to the observatory level without a machine or assistance. I ended up building the walls with the roof already inside. Then I carefully lifted the roof out the top and onto its runners, all single handed!


 I don’t mind heights but fitting the roof out-riggers was quite a challenge.


 Whilst I was building the observatory structure, I also commissioned a steel pier to extend from the concrete pier to the scope. I must thank Dennis Persyk for his excellent article of sizing steel piers. Using his data, I had built a 300mm diameter, 4mm wall, 2000m in length steel pier with 12mm steel plates at each end. The steel fabricator I used could not economically source 300mm thin wall pipe so we decide to roll our own! This appears to be a success and is comparatively light for its size.


 The steel pier was bolted to the concrete pier and a levelling plate was installed directly below the scope. A coat of flat black paint finished it off.







 Here are a few pic’s of the nearly completed observatory:-



Stage two of the build was constructing the ‘warm room’. I made the garage a bit longer than normal and I have built a 1.2m wide room in the rear which has direct access to the observatory. I built insulated cavity stud walls and insulted the roof. Temperature data from my early tests show that the PC alone keeps the room several degrees above the outside temperature.

 Here are pic’s of the warm room and scope installation. The purple carpet is an off cut from my 10 year old daughter bedroom (honest!)






And a pic of the mount and scope...


 The observatory is now close to operation, I carried out polar alignment last night, 1st November 2006.

 Hope you like the slightly unusual build, please ask any questions that may help you with your own projects.

AJ 8th Nov 2006