How To Turn A Garden Shed Into A Backyard Observatory.

Okay…we probably can’t build anything as dramatic and elaborate as this but…we can build something close to it at home.

If you’ve ever envies people with their own backyard observatory and wondered if you could do the same, but much cheaper…read on. This is how Paul Markov solved the problem.

To celebrate my 25th year as an amateur astronomer I built a backyard observatory. I chose a garden shed because of its relative low cost, immediate delivery, and because it blends in well in an urban backyard. The design of this shed is very suitable for use as an observatory because the roof slides up and down very easily. The shed is made by Royal Outdoor Products, model YM808 model, but almost any similar shed will suffice. There are other models that are still available that are built in a similar manner and can be easily converted into an observatory. No modifications were necessary for getting the roof to open and close, rather the roof panels are not completely screwed into place. Have a look at the steps taken:

8 x 8 foot area marked

Sod removed, pier location marked:

Floor frame done, made of 2 x 4’s, supported by concrete blocks throughout:

Another view of the floor frame:

Here’s the pier foundation. It’s a 10.5-inch concrete column, four feet deep:

Conduit is put in place for running cables:

Vapor barrier in installed:

Pressure treated plywood is installed for the floor:

2 x 8 boards are added to give the shed extra height:

A close-up of the metal channel that will hold the walls:

The garden shed as delivered:

And here’s the garden shed ready for assembly:

The shed starts going up:

The wall sections are very easy to install:

In about 15 minutes the walls are done:

Next the roof panels are slid into place:

Handles are added to the roof panels for opening and closing the roof:

And the shed is pretty much done:

For the first couple of months the scope was on a temporary wooden pier:

Here are a few images of the shed with the roof open:

To open the roof, four bolts are removed, the steel beam ridge is removed (shown lying on the left roof panel)
and the roof sections are slid down:

Here’s a close-up of how the roof slides up and down:

Here’s the telescope on the steel pier:

Close-up of the pier base, bolted to the concrete foundation:

Pier hatch door closed, a nice clean job:

Computer setup for imaging and remote control. The computer connects to a network inside the house via
130 feet of CAT-5e cable. I use Windows Remote Desktop to control the computer in the observatory:

Ready for observing or imaging:

Shelving for accessories:

Home-made bracket for mounting the Orion 80ED, works very well for guiding:

Images: With thanks to Paul Markov

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