The Original Dobservatory - 2000

In one long, hot July week in 2000, my wife and I -- with a little help from neighbors and friends -- completed the world's first  "Dobservatory." If you're building an observatory, and would like construction tips, just send us an email,

I'm pleased to find that a decade later, there are many incarnations of the "Dobservatory," including some commercial versions. For larger Dobs, the design allows you to observe on three sides of the structure.

Here are some of the basic features:

Our 14.5 Dobsonian sits on the floor, so the design has very low side walls -- just over 3 feet. By moving the scope, it's possible to aim the scope over the walls and see about 25 degrees above the horizon. There's no central pier -- that's why I called it a "DOBservatory."

The design is a basic 8x10 shed. 4x4 posts at each corner; one in the middle of each 10-ft wall, plus four more to support the roll-off system. We're located in Minnesota, so to prevent frost heave, each post sits on a concrete pad, 3.5 feet down. Total is 10 holes - 5 per side. Yes, it's solid! (Advice: line up and mark those holes with great care. We hired a bobcat service with an auger to dig the holes, and laid out the holes in haste. We had to do some additional manual digging to get everything lined up.)

We referred frequently to a wonderful book "A Place of Your Own Making" by Stephen Taylor, which provides lots of construction wisdom, and "Sheds" by David Stiles, which  provided a clear description of the details of an 8x10 shed.

Click on the link below to see details of the construction.