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Backyard Observatory on the Cheap

Denny Woolaghan

The observatory was constructed from a Rubbermaid 5.5'x5.5'x6.5' storage shed which was purchased from Orchard Supply Hardware on sale for just under $400.00. I wanted to place this Observatory on a 9x12 concrete pad that had been previously poured, and added rubber wheels (10) to allow the Observatory mobility on the pad for off-season & long term storage. This unit could be placed on gravel, a deck or possibly even straight on the yard. The shed is very strong.

Prior to the roof assembly I purchased some additional 2x4's and attached these to the roof perimeter with 4"x3/8" bolts, washers and nuts. I placed the 2x4's approximately 1/2" above the existing roof line, allowing the roof to slide off. I then attached supports to the rear of the shed using 2x4's and one 12" shelf bracket on each side. Across the top of both the roof perimeter and to the detached roof supports I attached 1x4's to finish off the appearance and to provide extra support, especially for the detached roof structure.

I then needed to raise the floor to a perfect height to match the horizon (and my house rooftop on one side). Twelve 99-cent concrete blocks from Home Depot and a sheet of 3/4" plywood gave me just the right height.

Three views of Denny Woolaghan's inexpensive backyard observatory. Last is detail of his observatory roof customization.

Mail to: Denny Woolaghan
Copyright © 2000 San Jose Astronomical Association
Last updated: July 19, 2007

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