Turning any Roof Into an Amateur Observatory

Observatories around the world use linear actuators to control the closing and opening of their roof panels when they want to observe the sky. The La Canada observatory in Avila, Spain uses two actuators to extend the window panels that are controlled from the observatory PC. Taking a lesson from these massive observatories, even an amateur astronomer can create an observatory in their own home.


In the video below, the individuals have created their own observatory in the attic of their home, complete with a movable roof. The system uses a few linear actuators that are built to withstand 400lbs of weight on each side. The roof has been re-constructed so that it creates a tight seal that keeps out the elements when it is closed. This is important if the space is being used as an amateur observatory, since the equipment that is commonly used can be rather expensive, such as computers and telescopes.


The choice to create this space using linear actuators on the top of their house is ideal, because viewing the night sky from the ground can be problematic. If you live in a suburban area, trees, other houses or light posts can be an impediment to viewing the astronomical events. In the video, it is clearly noticeable that the trees are higher than the houses. The light of a whole galaxy can be hidden behind a light post from earth. This makes an observatory constructed on the roof of a home very ideal.


Although the control of the La Canada observatory is linked with a PC, for a project this size, it would likely be best to use a control system with a switch that enables the motion of the roof.


The actuators in this video extend a great deal, but because of the roof, they cannot completely extend and may not provide a complete view of the sky.  In order to complete this project, an amateur astronomer may want to create a panel that extends upward from the floor, allowing the telescope to lift higher than the roof to provide a complete view of the sky regardless of how much or how little the panels open.


High-tech, professional observatories are not the only structures that can use actuators for their observatories. With a bit of ingenuity and know-how, any amateur astronomer can turn their attic – or any room on the top floor of their house – into an observatory.


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