Building a Roll-Off Roof or Dome Observatory Book Review

Building a roll off or dome observatoryThis the second edition of the popular Guide to designing and building your own Roll-Off Roof or Dome Observatory. There comes a time when it becomes tiresome having to set up telescopes cameras cables and computers each night, a lot of the observing time is lost Polar aligning and setting up. If you are fortunate to have the garden space and dark skies then it’s time to think about making a permanent observatory.

At the start of the book there are various photos of observatory types which show the many ways of building an observatory for your telescopes and equipment. These include twin sliding roofs, log cabins, ‘A’ frame designs, cantilever opening roofs and ‘Clapp Trapp’ folding panels which is an observatory which can be taken to star parties.

This book is all you will need, it explains the benefits of a permanent building and the pros and cons between Domes versus Roll-Off Roof. The first step is to decide the size of the structure, the telescopes and equipment to be housed, this book takes you through all the planning stages with good advice on what to consider in the design and criteria to consider.

Part 1 – Planning

The building stage considerations involve types of footing and provisions for data and mains cables, there are detailed engineering drawings in the book to help you at this stage.

The most important part of the observatory is the Pier design; detailed drawings are included with suggested dimensions which you need to take into account for the equipment to be installed. Isolating the pier from the observatory floor is an important consideration and is dealt with in detail.

The engineering plans for the Framing and walls for the roll–Off roof are shown in drawings and photographs, advice on fabricating the different roof tracks and roof are shown and the methods of construction which can be adapted to suit your own design.

Part 2 – Building

Part 2 is how to build a Dome Observatory detailing the design and construction methods. This is a more complicated build particularly the dome which can be fabricated using plywood, galvanized steel or fibreglass. The design shown is for a 2.1 meters high wall base. This section goes through step by step stages of construction with photos and drawings for various dome designs.

If you prefer an off the shelf observatory Chapter 14 describes the three main commercial types, the Roll-Off Roof, The Rotating Clamshell and the Rotating Aperture including feature of the SkyShed POD, SkyShed POD Max and the UK made Pulsar Observatory.


To summarize this is an excellent technical book to have if you are planning to build your own observatory or just looking at improving an existing setup, it’s packed with engineering drawing and photos to help you on your way with advice based on years of experience of the author.

Reviewed By Mick Jenkins

Where can I buy the Building a Roll-Off Roof or Dome Observatory Book?

You can buy Building a Roll-Off Roof or Dome Observatory from Amazon UK

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