Cold feet and clammy hands during astrophotography – that was yesterday

Report on a visit to a fully automated garden observatory on December 30, 2023

There are many garden observatories used by amateur astronomers and almost as many different concepts that are followed in their construction and operation. That's why it's always worth visiting such an observatory.

Our astro friend Olaf invited us to give us an in-depth insight into the planning, construction and control of his garden observatory, which he built about 1.5 years ago. The four of us rang his doorbell on Saturday, December 30th, 2023, “between the years 2023 and 2024”. We were even lucky with the weather: without any risk of rain (the last few weeks have been totally rainy), we were able to take a look at the observatory when it was opened.

The visitors and the host: (from left to right) Thomas, Gerold, Achim, Michael, Olaf
In the background on the hill is the garden observatory

The motto of his observatory could be something like this: You don't have to be outside to take great astro photos. Olaf's observatory makes it possible to stay in the house thanks to its sophisticated automation, so that everything - telescope, camera, mount and much more - is operated completely from the house when recording celestial objects or even works completely alone. However, this required a lot of planning and programming.

The garden observatory in its closed state

The observatory is elevated on a hill. The telescopic column rests in a concrete block measuring approx. 60x60x60 cm³, which ensures sufficient stability. The two parts roof are folded away to each side. It therefore requires less space than a roll-roof hut. There is just enough space in the observatory for the telescopes provided. Nothing more is necessary because of the automation.

The observatory is open, the telescope has a clear view.

And we didn't need to see anything else outside. Inside we were shown the entire process of an observation night. We were able to discuss many technical questions.

Finally, Olaf summarized the highlight of his concept: The decisive advantage of this observatory is that it is very quickly ready for operation. Even with the prospect of just an hour of open sky, it's worth observing. “No screwing, adjustment or northing is necessary. The telescope is ready for immediate use.”

Of course we only can agree with that and left that nice meeting with own plans in mind.