This is a view of the bottom of the garden showing where the observatory (POD) is to be placed. The posts mark out the size of the decking on which the POD is to be constructed.

The first task was to dig a hole 2ft square by 3ft deep to take the concrete on which the pier is to be mounted. At this point I should mention that the groundwork and decking construction was carried out by a local builder as my DIY skills are minimal. I did however put the POD together with only little help.

More holes were dug to take concrete to support the decking independently of the pier.

At the bottom of the deep pier base hole was by chance a gravel layer. Here some concrete has been poured and steel rods hammered down into the gravel layer to provide extra stability.

The hole was filled to ground level with concrete (it needed a ton of concrete) and shuttering to fit the template with the bolts laid on top and levelled.

More concrete is poured in and the template with the four L shaped bolts inserted into the concrete. The levelling was rechecked.

Some brickwork added to the decking supports and the wooden template removed.

A French drain constructed round the edge.

Starting the construction of the decking.

Decking complete.


Trying out the pier.

Note the gap between the decking and the pier base so that vibrations from the decking do not get transmitted to the base and hence the telescope. This is vitally important especially when imaging.

The POD has arrived. Thanks to the brilliant help from my neighbours the pieces had to be lifted over three wall/fences to get into my garden.

Construction well underway. The walls are up and on the decking. That didn't take very long except the last bolt required quite a bit of pushing and shoving to get in place.

Here the steel plates are being screwed into the base of the primary dome. Each half of the dome is in two parts that have to be bolted together and sealant applied on both sides.

Beginning to look like an observatory. The primary dome is in place and it has been checked that it turns on the skate wheels smoothly.

Just the secondary dome to be lifted on.

The POD is now virtually complete and now just needs mains electric to be connected and some anti fatigue flooring to be added.

Internal view. Note that as this was taken with a wide angle lens the view is distorted.

The equipment bays are of the same size. They are very roomy and make it possible for the telescope area to be uncluttered,

The shelves slide out, one of which will contain the laptop and the other for star charts or books.

My SkyShed POD installation

UPDATE Summer 2014

As my imaging times have become longer, I was getting very frustrated with not being able to image at the zenith as the POD roof gets in the way and can only see up to approx 70 degrees above horizontal, so decided to get a Pod Zenith Table kit from SkyShed in Canada via Altair Astro.

The first picture shows the actual table completed. The wood has to be bought separately (2 x 4’ x 8’ 3/4” marine ply) but the angle iron pieces and all the screws were provided in the kit. I was surprised how expensive the wood and yacht varnish was. This is with the underside uppermost.

Here is the PZT fitted. The iron legs (x4) and the wedges (x3) are supplied in the kit.

With dome open but in normal position on the POD walls

And then with the dome pushed back on to the PZT enabling the telescope to easily reach the zenith and beyond.

It is also possible to rotate the dome to some extent on the PZT giving more flexibility.

In practice I have been able to rotate it a bit further than shown.

Overall I am delighted with the PZT and after just a month have made good use of it. I would recommend it to anyone. The only snag is the cost of the kit and the wood etc.