My Home Observatory Has Endured The Test of Time, But Is Now Improved. It Serves Multiple Purposes; One Being My Humble Observatory, a Sun Deck and for Blue Bird Watching

I started with just a deck, but over time, especially in the past couple years, I’ve tried to improve and make my observing site a bit darker, and I’ve been successful. At the zenith or overhead, on a real good and transparent night, I can reach a 5.5 NELM. Not too bad for a location inside the city limits of a small town.

And with no ambient light shinning into my eyes.

After a few revisions….

You might wonder why I’ve not built a dome or roll-off roof observatory, after being an amateur astronomy for almost 50 years. The reason. My back yard is not worthy of a permanent structure.

For 35 years, I’ve been using my back deck for the majority of my observing. My house blocks ambient light from the south, but I needed to improve my overhead and northern views. I can observe anything from ~+12º north latitude, anything more southerly, I have to leave my deck and find the darkest spot in my back yard.

On the west side of my deck, I use a couple large sheets of black auto/marine fabric, with a backing that makes light impossible to penetrate.

I just “clothes-pin” it to a nylon rope, and when my session is complete, it’s very easy to take down, fold up and put away. It is similar to heavy duty “old time” tent canvas. It’s very thick, and is perfect for my use.

So for the past couple of years, I’ve been slowly adding various light blocks:

A couple weeks ago I added a small section to my current wooden light block petition, which now needs to be stained. And also a new small shed to block light, and for storage.

In my larger shed, I store my CGE-Pro Celestron mount, which is much too heavy to take in and out of the house. This mount is really designed for a permanent observatory, and too heavy to set up for a night or two of observing. Most of the time, I use a lighter equatorial mount with my 10-inch. I also keep tools, counterweights, an astro-chair and other astronomy and non-astronomy equipment stored in this shed.

So, my point of this post: Despite street lights, or other lighting there are things you can do to improve your ability to observe, even from your back yard.

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