I'm really lucky to be living under the fairly dark skies of rural West Dorset on a hill overlooking the River Frome Valley, roughly around 50° 46'N, 2° 34'E.

Click on the thumbnail on the right to see my location. Yellow and green areas suffer from moderate to high light pollution, blue areas very little light pollution and grey for the completely dark skies on Dartmoor and Exmoor. The skies above my observatory allow me to see skies down to around magnitude 6.

Phillips Dark Sky Map of SW England

When I first bought my LX90 I kept it securely in the garage. Each observing session I would assemble the tripod, carry out the scope, set up electric power, etc. Then, if I was lucky and the sky was still clear, I could eventually start. It was even worse at the end of the session when, tired and cold, you have to disassemble it all and pack up.

When I got started with astrophotography I soon realised I needed to start using a wedge to allow me to polar align the scope. Without it you are severely limited in the exposure times you can use before you get trailed star images due to field rotation. Trouble is, polar alignment takes time, maybe 30 more minutes. You have no idea how off-putting this is!

 So the next step was to have a semi-permanent setup where the tripod, wedge and electricity were left out (under a tarpaulin) on the drive. Not very pretty. Which eventually contributed to my wife being persuaded to consider an observatory...as long as it didn't look like an observatory.

We quickly opted for a roll-off roof shed (there's even a Yahoo! group dedicated to them). For a long time I considered converting an off-the-shelf shed, but the time and relative trial-and-error feel of such a venture put me off. After a few evening's internet research I eventually selected the shed you see here from Taylor's Garden Buildings.

After ordering it (in November 2007) I had three months build-time to prepare the site. That was where the hard work began.

Pictures from the construction phase....

 The observatory with roof rolled off

More pictures....

After a night's imaging

View of the observatory facing north

 Observatory from the south

Sunrise, facing south east 


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