General Home Observatory


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The home observatory. For me the term "Hobby Saver" is more correct. There is nothing that kills a hobby quicker than the monotony of setting up and tearing down of the gear. There is always the chance of having a boo-boo. Storing your stuff when not in use adds to the strain on the enjoyment of the night sky. However the home observatory has issues too. The risk of someone breaking in to it while you aren't home or around to watch it.

Some of the worries can be abated by having good locks, insurance, security cameras or even a good neighbor. It's all about location.

I started out like most with the nightly set-up and tear-down in the wee hours of the morning. I soon picked out a decent spot in my yard for a pier. I built it myself with scrap from around the farm. Since the pier went in I only do a PA if my tracking starts getting funky. The first year and a half I parked a little motorhome on the West side of the pier. I bought long enough cords to reach the table through the window (cut a piece of foam to keep the warm in and cold out). I ran a little electric heater to keep the chill off.... It worked well except my wife started reminding me that I was never in the house...... A couple years ago a used SkyShed pod became available at a fair price.

Here is where I will explain why I chose the SkyShed over a Roll-Off-Roof (RoR). I know two APers who have RoRs here in Saskatchewan, both have lost their lids due to windstorms. Since inflation has kicked in, the cost of a wood build or a purchased structure are very similar. Each design has it's pluses and negatives. My dome limits me to the maximum of 65-70 degrees. A RoR may cause me to see IF I could find the roof after a plow wind. The other structure that is best IMO is the dome with a shutter. Automation to close these things can come in handy. A lot can shut down the scopes, park the mount and close IF a weather event happens.

I hope there is some discussion here on the home observatory.
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I really wish I had the space (and the FOV) to do one in the back yard.... even at a Bortle 5 area, we can get some good shots. But the back yard is was basically a creek bed, and I can't put any structures on most of the lower level thanks to a right-of-way we had to grant to the city.
And I'm not really crazy about putting the stuff down at my brothers land as they've been having a lot of issues with the "tweakers" breaking into buildings on the property around there an stealing anything they can to trade for speed.
I often forget how lucky I am. My obs has provisions for locking it up. It being secondhand I don't even have the key. My real advantage is my dark sky (bortle 2) and no trees. But I do have to contend with Momma nature. No trees for breaking the wind, and temps that most would ask "do you go outside in the winter time", and the odd one says "so cold nothing could live there". :ROFLMAO:

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