Observing Deck
Here is the telescope, a 4" refractor, snug
and dry inside the shed.  I could probably
fit up to a 5" refractor or a 9"
Schmidt-Cassegrain inside the shed using
my equatorial-type mounting.  John
Gillies uses the same shed to enclose a
12" Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain scope on
a fork mount.  I keep all accessories
stored inside the house in a large rolling
plastic tool-box than I can easily bring
When I plan to observe or
photograph for several
consecutive nights, I protect
the telescope and electronics
with a roll-off shed.  I got
the idea from John Gillies, an
astronomer in Southern
Ontario. I purchased the
Royal Yardmate vinyl shed
kit from Lowe's, and
assembled it in about 4
hours.  The carpenter who
built the deck added a 2x8
frame to the base, attached
4" casters, and cut a
horseshoe shaped section for
the pier.
Without enough room for a roll-off roof observatory, I opted
for a dedicated deck built around a pier.  For rigidity, the
steel Astro-pier is anchored in a ton of concrete, and has
leveling bolts at its base.  I purchased a 6 foot pier because
my deck is 2 feet above grade.  The decking is isolated from
the pier by 1/2" space to prevent transmission of vibrations
from walking on the deck.
The Astro-Pier was pre-drilled for shelves
and electrical power, and has hooks on the
opposite side for hanging telescope
controllers.  The shed is double wall vinyl,
keeping the contents well protected from
the elements.  Still, I remove the mount,
scope and electronics to the house for
storage when I do not plan to observe the
next night, because moisture would
ultimately take its toll.  The mount holds
excellent polar allignment when re-attaching
to the pier, so that adjustments are rarely
Walls around the deck are
6'8" high to provide
shielding from neighbors'
lights and protection from
wind.  I can see down to 35
degrees north and 25 degres
Music:  Pianoman by Billy Joel