An observatory is really just a safe place to house a telescope and an ideal place to observe from. Given these characteristics, what’s stopping you from creating your own in the comfort of your own backyard? Sure, you may not rival the likes of Mt. Wilson, but you’ll have a dedicated place to gaze in wonder at the stars. Here’s how to build your own backyard observatory:
1. Clear out a space or find a wide open area.
The first thing you need is the perfect place. Scan your backyard not only for a wide open and relatively flat section, but also ensure there aren’t overhanging trees. Once you’ve found a spot, do a 360 to identify potential view blockers and sources of light pollution.
2. Think doghouse as far as size and shape.
Your observatory isn’t going to be a huge building with sophisticated technology. All you really need is something as simple as a doghouse, but with enough height to accomodate you seated and your telescope fully retracted. In general, 4 feet by 8 feet is enough space.
3. A rolling roof is the best option.
The main feature of an observatory is the roof. It needs to be able to keep the interior cozy and relatively dry when it’s closed, but easily open when you want to observe. For these purposes, a rolling roof is your best bet. It’s fairly simple to install rails and a rolling mechanism, and as for materials, metal is a good roofing choice.
4. Add in a comfortable chair, and you’re done!
After you’ve built your simple doghouse walls and installed a rolling roof, you’re basically done! Of course, you can customize to your liking and depending on your budget and timeframe. Additional options include a table for star charts, storage for telescope accessories, and even space for a heater. But for barebones, this is all you need. Pick a simple stool or chair that fits well and that you can sit on for lengthy periods of time, and you have everything you need to start observing in peace.