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The one thing that bothered me about my permanent set-up is that because it was on the north side of my house I was losing everything below 40 degrees to the south. This meant I was missing a large amount of objects. The answer was to build something on the south side of the house. I don’t have much space so it would have to be as small as possible, the smaller the better. I also want something that can be at least semi-automated, so I can set it running and go to bed.

I cut down my pier to it’s smallest practical size, and by parking the scope on it’s side, I managed to get the space it needs to operate down to 5″ x 5″ square by 4″ high. The main problem in doing this is that I don’t have the space for a traditional roll off roof, but I need the same functionallity. I opted to go for a self-supporting roof design, something I hadn’t seen done before but it seemed like a good idea

I made some plans in 3D using Sketchup, then started building it using wood and cladding from B&Q. I used heavy duty rollers that are usually used for steel gates, they were quite expensive but do the job really well

The great thing about this design is that when its closed it only takes up a really small space, it’s so short that you can’t see it over my fence which is good for security. The hardest thing was making the legs stable as it rolled in and out. Because the whole thing is on a slope, the back leg is offset to clear my front step, and the roof is quite heavy, I had to reinforce the two legs by joining them together. I hadn’t imagined this would be an issue when I designed it

The next stage is to go for full software automation: from powering up the scope, doing an auto-alignment process, auto-focusing, auto-guiding, taking sets of exposures and then parking the scope on it’s side and closing the roof. It will also need to have built in security and some sort of weather sensing to protect against possible rain

Nano Observatory (roof on)

Nano Observatory (roof off)





  1. Very nice design, something I’m contemplating too – can’t decide to do this or a roll-away shed. But the idea here is really good, and could be automated, which might really be good for me too – getting too old for those cold New England nights in winter. Have you automated it yet?
    Beautiful images too…how did you polar align?

    • Hi Morgan,

      I managed to get a garage door opener motor fitted and was working on the automation when the motor stopped working. I gave up at that point when I realised it was much more useful to have it on manual control. There’s also so much that can go wrong (and usually does) with my system that I’ve found I get better results by setting it all up manually. I’m convinced that you need to spend a lot of money to have a reliable automated system with more professional kit that I can afford.

      The good thing that rolled out of that was I can use plate solving now which has made the whole thing much quicker to use, so it was worth it in that sense.

      I can’t see the pole star when I am so I used EQ Align (, it’s a great program that uses drift alignment through your guide camera to calculate how far out it is and show you have far to move the axis on the mount.


  2. Excellente réalisation.
    Je suis français, j’habite dans le périgord et j’ai construit mon observatoire à toit roulant.
    Je connais un peu l’écosse, j’ai passé une dizaine de jours chez des amis écossais à Dolbeattie. Je vous appuie totalement dans votre action pour réduire la pollution lumineuse.
    Si vous ou l’un de vos membres de club venez en france, je vous invite à venir me voir, ce sera avec un grand plaisir.

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