What I wanted out of my observatory

I've been an avid amateur astronomer for many years now. I started out in the hobby with an 8" f/6 on a German equatorial mount I built out of Richard Berry's fabulous book, Build Your Own Telescope. I didn't quite get it done before Shoemaker-Levy 9 smacked Jupiter, but I did finish that summer. I named that scope Albireo and it served me well for almost 6 years before I decided to jump in aperture. The last year I was working on my degree, I built a 12.5" f/4.7 Dobsonian I named Equinox. Before it saw first light, I moved to Los Angeles for the start of my postdoc years, and the light and apartment living just didn't mesh well with the big scope. Now that I've moved to Pennsylvania and have some space to work with, I'm going to have an observatory for Equinox to live in! This is the record of the design and construction of that facility.

Observatory Requirements

Before building the observatory, I had a set of requirements:
  1. Must be big enough to accomodate me, my scope, a small desk area for an atlas table, and several vistors at once. Ideal size seemed to me to be 12 foot x 12 foot.
  2. Since I have a Dobsonian, the walls could not drastically cutoff the horizons.
  3. I prefer to be able to stand upright at least in some parts of the observatory, and I prefer NOT to have to stand on a ladder to observer. As Equinox is designed, I can stand flat footed when looking at zenith.
  4. I prefer roll off roofs to domes, as I like to be able to see the open sky when I observe.
These requirements may seem to be a tough lot to reconcile with each other, but in this instance I can take advantage of the site's poor horizons to make some of them work together.

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Last Updated: 25 September 2012