The New Observatory Dome


With the recent separation of myself and my wife, it became obvious that there was absolutely no way I would get chance of moving house in the near future, and probably ever. If I was to get the maximum use of my equipment, I really needed somewhere to permanently house the telescopes, and already to run for those fleeting minutes of clear sky we sometimes get.

Having only a small garden 19' x 13', and already hard landscaped to allow the use of a permanent pier, and also a patio, the only option was to put a small building over the central area of the garden.

The option of a roll off roof was not possible, as there was nowhere to roll it to, and all the other fancy ideas that I came up with looked as if I would probably end up with an ineffective, and unattractive building. The only alternative was to go for a dome. A proper observatory I thought.

As you can see it doesn't leave an awful lot of room! I can just get around to the patio with a tray of drinks :-), and I also still get quite a lot of sun round the back there.

Well as wanted to operate my CCD equipment remotely, the dome would have to motorised and capable of operating together with the telescope mount. This really did make the operation a little more tricky, and of course up went the actual cost accordingly. Being in what could be considered a delicate financial position I decided to have a good look around.

Within the UK, there are domes available, but it seemed that if I wanted something to be interfaced, and controlled I would have to either import from the US, or Australia. I decided on the Sirius Observatory from Australia. I plonked for the motorising, and the ventilation, and the automadome accessory, so I could link all together with The Sky & Automadome from Software Bisque.


I managed to get the unit here, and assembled with the assistance of some good mates, and as I write this I am just getting to the point of setting up the motorising, and linkage to The Sky.

So here is the story of my dome, in words and pictures.

Before I could put the dome in, the circular telescope area had to be lifted, and concreted back in. This was to provide a solid flat base, but also allow the garden to be left in good condition should I ever get the chance to move. Being as practical as a chocolate tea pot, my friend Tim - The Stunt Astronomer offered to come and do the base for me. I put reinforced tubing to take the LAN cables, and telephone cable. In addition armoured cable was put through to provide power to the dome.


The dome arrived by sea after about 8 weeks, and with great assistance from Pat at Crayford Freight Services my crate arrived during the England v Argentina football match. The driver however was aware that nothing was going to happen to it until the game was over. Luckily a friend of mine runs a timber business up the road, and he was good enough to take it off the truck for me, and store it overnight so I could remove it the following day.


Next day, armed only with a screw driver, a started to dismantle the crate. Man was there some screws. Anyone else planning this should use an electric version! Bit by bit the contents became visible.


Having managed to get the bits out, I now had to transport them home. Richard had agreed to give me a hand to carry them, but it was a fair way to my place. Luckily Edward agreed to drop them down for us using his tractor and trailer. Caused quite a bit of amusement as we drove through the village with an observatory dome on the back..


Now all we had to do was unload the tractor, and carry the parts down a three foot passage way, over fences up to 6 feet high with overhanging trees. Classic or what. I had already decided that it was physically possible, but that I would need some further assistance. Tony and Steve had agreed to muck in, and Richard managed to hang on just for a little bit longer. Between us, we got everything in there. All we had to do now was to assemble it before it rained.


With Steve and Tony's assistance we made a start, and after a while it started to take shape. With the girls shooting down to the shop to get some Stella, progress was indeed swift.


As look would have it we finished the main assembly at four o clock in the afternoon, and got the front latch on just before the rain came down. It was then we downed tools and went for a well deserved pint!

There was still some final juggling to ensure all the panels were level, and then the base was sealed on the outside, and the slabs, and gaps were sealed with UPVA glue. This should prevent dust, and hopefully any water finding its way in along the gaps of the slabs.


In addition to this a floor was then put in. Both to insulate the dome from the concrete floor, and also to protect anything that is dropped from getting damage.


The electrics were duly assembled by Dave, as he thought it would be quicker to do it, than put my efforts right. I do not doubt him for a minute. Suitably bribed by Guinness and a Curry progress was soon made, though it didn't make for an early night. It all went together at about 1245 am one night. I have a small garage type consumer unit with two circuits and a RCD cut out for safety purposes.


All the electrics are fitted onto the side of the pier which is bolted to a concrete block 3 x 2 x 3 feet. Thanks for the drilling Lee, my drill would still be at it! The pier is 48 inches tall and 8 inches square, and fairly substantial unit which may need raising yet. A lot will depend on the new mount due in November. Anyway a nice pier Mr Rose, and Mr Rose, and Mr Rose!

Having done most of the work, I have no put in the mount, the PC, the refractors, and an alarm system. So things are starting to come together. Some more to do with regard to the actual software and operational side, but it is usable. I have put a UPS in side of the observatory as we are liable to power dips,and cuts quite often. The UPS should mean that I can continue imaging without having to reset everything.

...... ......

So that's where we are for now, and it seems to take the scopes well. Even the view from the road isn't too pronounced. That view is approximately SSW. It will just have to do.


Now complete with the ME & the C11 as well.


Having been so pleased with my dome, I have now become the UK agent for Sirius Observatories. For further information on the various models and specifications go to

To get an idea of what my surrounding area is like, and the restricted view, this shot of my back garden from the air shjould give you an idea. Copyright Dave Rose - Thanks Dave - love it! ........The 'Home of the Dome'

or E mail


Also I would just like to publicly thank the following for all there help and support,

Tim (Stunt Astronomer) Jones - Mr Groundforce.

Pat at Crayford Freight Services - Import & Transportation Expert.

Edward 'Bamba' Gascoigne - Official Mover & Storer.

Richard Button - Official 'Humper & Laminator'.

The Rose, Rose, & Rose - Pier Construction Company & Technical Support.

Steve 'Lurch' - Project Management & Humping'.

Tony Meadows - Senior Joiner & Mr Fix It Supremo.

Lee 'Driller Killer I'll Fix ya Pier' Woods .

Dave Pile - Dr Sparks - Site Electrician.

Neil 'Dr PC' Golding - Network & Communications Guru.

Doug McClintock of Sirius Observatories Australia.


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