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What I want 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/4.8 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. Once I moved to Pennsylvania I had some space to work with, and built my first observatory for Equinox to live in -- Starwood Observatory! As a consequence of that experience, I know the advantages of having an observatory, and I also know what I'd do differently if given a second chance. Here's my second chance!!

Observatory Requirements

Before building the observatory, I had a set of requirements, which are the same ones I had for Starwood:
  1. Must be big enough to accomodate me, my scope, a small desk area for an atlas table, and several vistors at once. It must be bigger than Starwood Observatory, since I'm sure I'll have a larger scope someday soon. Ideal size seemed to me to be 20 foot x 20 foot.
  2. Since I have a Dobsonian, the walls could not drastically cutoff the horizons. There is a bit of light tresspass going on here in Paradise, and often light canyon winds, so higher walls are desireable, but I don't want to lose too much sky.
  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 having a large footprint will accomodate many of my desires.


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