My observatory
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My observatory in Quebec, Canada

By Marcel Fontaine

You would be kind to forgive my writing as my native language is french


This project was the outcome of a old dream. After buying a Meade SC10 inches, it became obvious that I could not carry it as easyly as anticipated. I then decided to build an observatory and it would have to meet specials requirements.

First of all, its surface area should not exceed 64 square feet, or 8x8 feet, this, to save as much wood as possible during the cutting . Secondly, it should have a rolling roof. Third and finally, it should be dismantle in a few hours. It is place on a flower bed during winter, and it was out of question (as my wife stated) that it's stays there in summer. (no comments ;-) )

I started by digging a 54 inches hole in the ground asf to place in it, a 10 inches diameter sonotube. I prepared some cement and pour around 5 bags of it in the tube. Long before it dryed out, I placed 3 steel rods (1/2 inches by 3 feet) so that my metal pier would rest on this base and would allow for azimutal and altitude ajustment. For the corners, I used 4 pieces of wood 4X4 and then screwed the joists to them. That way I could dismantle everything rapidly. I then proceeded to cover the floor with 2 sheets of 5/8 thick plywood, size 4X8. I made a hole in the center as to let the pier go through without touching the floor to eliminate all the vibrations.

wall Building the wall was quite easy. I used 2X3 nailed together. The 4 walls are identicals, only a small modification on the door wall was made. A 2X3 was move to the center so I could have room to install a 32 inches door. They all held to each other on the corner post with big bolts. All the parts of this observatory are marked for easy recognition.

West side You have now a view with the roof open. The door is on the other side. The roof rolls on 2 beams 2x10 inches, 12 feet long and are hanging on my patio. A metal rail is attach to the top of each beam, and also to the observatory allowing the 4 wheels on each side of the roof to slide without going overboard. Note that after a few months of usage, I discovered that I shall install 2 more beams next year on the opposite side. That way, I will have full access to both side of the sky, north and south. I missed observing Hale-Bopp in march due to the location of the roof on the north side.

Close roof

Now, a sight from above, roof closed. It is made with 3 metal sheets wich can be unscrewed and the roof can be separated in 2 for carrying purpose.

Open roof

Open roof, view from the same spot. You can notice on the right side a small table. It is quite usefull for my maps and atlases. There's even a place for my folding chair. The inside has been painted in black. (as recommended by the Rolling Stone)

Under roof You can see on this pictures the parts that make the roof. The weels are 2.5 inches for a total of 8. They can support 125 pounds each and roll perfectly on the tracks wich have a U shape. All the tracks stay on their original parts for transportation.


Finally, this is my telescope on it's pier. The tube is fill with sand to absorb the vibrations. The scope rest on a 90 pounds steel plate 3/4 inches. You can notice the rods on the bottom and are coming from the ciment tube. They are threaded for the adjustment explained previously. The whole set weight approximatively 200 pounds. Calibrating the scope is a child play.

I will publish the list of the materials later on. I can tell you that it is under 600$ cdn. It was fun to build and when winter came, it was a real pleasure to be in it. After many months of usage, as stated before, the only drawback was that I could not access low level observation on the north side. One other thing, I builded the wall so they have a clearance of 59 inches measure from the floor. For me it is tall enough. This might be modify depending of the observer's height.
I'll be glad to answer any questions you might have. Marcel Fontaine.