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Backyard Observatory Building Details

Here are the details of building my backyard roll off roof observatory to permanently house my telescopes. I can be ready in minutes to start taking images.

I’m hoping to get more of the interior finished this summer, I’ve started on the walkways to the door, and to my new shed. The roof motor is working great! a video of the roof opening.  The roof motor is from Backyard Observatories.

This is a pictorial history of the construction of the roll off roof observatory. I’ve wanted to build something like this for a very long time! It was very exciting to get to working on it.

The observatory is in Shingle Springs, which is about 30 miles east of Sacramento, California, up in the foothills at an elevation of 1,650 feet.

If you have any questions on the building details, use the Contact Me page and I’ll see if I can answer your questions.

Many thanks to my neighbor for being kind enough to turn his porch lights off while I take pictures!

Backyard Observatory Building Details

Old Pad and Trees

This is the old newtonian mount pad, and two Locust trees, that spray sap all summer (not good for expensive optics), drop thorny twigs (not good for my dog’s feet), and block the view to the south.

Backyard Observatory Building Details

The Pier Hole

Approximately 24″ x 24″ by 44″ deep. I’d almost reached my target depth when I hit a huge rock covering the entire bottom on the hole, so the whole thing is sitting on the rock now.


Getting ready to pour the concrete for the floor. The pier cement will be isolated with 1″ thick foam. The pier concrete also has a 2″ PVC pipe that comes up in the middle of the pier for wires from the computer. I also have a power outlet in the pier concrete.

Floor poured

I put a board with nails embedded into the concrete for the warm room wall while the cement was wet.

Framed walls are up

Framing about done

The pier arrives

I got the Astro Pier, and installed it with the MI-250 mount.

Getting there

The telescope it set up and ready to use (even though there is no roof).

Roof beam

One of the roof beams with temporary braces in place to hold the posts up. July 10, 2005

Roof base

This is before the 2×12’s that will go on and cover the V groove wheels. The beams on the end connect with nails, and metal brackets that bolt in the corners for added strength.

Roof base in “open” position

Next – the rafters! I’m already having to roll it open to use the telescope

Rafters are done

I’ve got a few more things to do before I’m ready for the plywood.

Walls painted

I have the felt paper on the roof because rain threatened, and just started painting the walls

Inside walls painted

I finally got the inside walls painted and the carpet installed in 2009

New Paramount MX mount

Febraury 2013, the Paramount MX mount, and the C11 and FSQ-106 telescopes.

Backyard Observatory Building Details

Cut down trees

Several problems solved

Pier is Poured

With the Astro Pier mounting kit in place, the pier is all poured. It sticks out of the ground a bit to match where the floor will be, since the ground slightly slopes.

Concrete pouring day

My father in law helping out with the concrete. Notice the two PVC pipes to carry wires under the floor to the computer.

Starting the framing

The walls are started

My dog Bo

Checking to see if there might be some food laying around somewhere.

Siding going up

Pier Close up

The pier and the MI-250.

Top View

I have one of the 4×6″ beams that will hold the roof installed.

Metal rails up

I have both beams and the metal rails up in this photo. The older boards are still some temporary braces.

The roof base

The roof base almost complete, I braced the interior with a big “X” to keep it square.

Starting the rafters

The start of the rafters for the hip roof

Starting plywood on roof

I have foamboard in the ceiling, and blocks between the rafters with vents to keep the “attic” part cooler. Ready to finish the plywood.

October 19, 2005

The metal roofing is mostly done, and the gutters mostly on.

November 2009

The telescope, new carpet, and my dog Max in the doorway.  The new FSQ, a 4″ scope sits on top of the C11 telescope.

June 2015

Putting the new AG Optical Systems 14.5″ iDK telescope up onto the mount. This thing is huge.