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Backyard observatory dome

Set up one of these three domes, and next time you observe you'll feel like a pro.
RELATED TOPICS: ACCESSORIES
Astrogazer portable observatory dome
The Astrogazer portable observatory dome measures 10 feet wide by 8 feet high and sets up in about an hour. Assembly requires no tools.
Mike D. Reynolds
This review, "Choose the dome that's right for you," appeared in the May 2008 issue of Astronomy magazine

There's a saying in astronomy: The best telescope is the one you use. If your telescope is too big or too complicated to set up easily, you might find it collecting dust instead of starlight. So, many amateur astronomers have looked to mimic the "big boys" over the years and put their telescopes in a more permanent
installation — an observatory.

Building a backyard observatory 25 years ago usually meant one of two things: Buy a dome or do it yourself from scratch. A simple "roll-off roof " observatory was also an alternative. But the allure of a dome still beckons many amateurs.

Both types have advantages. A dome provides better wind and light protection, yet it traps daytime heat. The roll-off roof allows rapid climatic adjustment, but less light and wind protection than a dome.

Domes in the average amateur's price range became more available in recent years. Three of these newcomers offer different approaches to housing your scope.

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