Observatories are simply rooms or buildings that are designed and used for the purposes of observing natural phenomena such as terrestrial and celestial bodies and its activities. Observatories are used by a wide range of people and groups. For example, private scientists and science companies to study the sky and universe, government science programs, in schools, and also by people who enjoy astronomy as a hobby. Observatories are not structures that are found in most schools and homes. Because of many different uses of observatory domes, there is a wide selection to choose from. Because of the specialisation that is required to manufacture these, and the fact that there are not countless companies that make them, observatory domes are investment items. Even the cheapest observatory domes are out of reach for most people. The retail value is over $1000. There are the added features that all enthusiasts want, such as the motorized dome, synchronised to the telescope.
Lot of people opt to build their own Observatory domes. Anyone with enough time can try to build their own observatory dome, but it does require some DIY skills. Fortunately, the material that is used to construct these can be purchased from most hardware and home improvement stores. Obviously these materials will be lesser in quality than the materials that are used by observatory dome manufacturers and so will not have the same benefits, but the homemade ones still fulfil their purpose. There are cheaper versions, whereby people can purchase DIY kits from observatory dome manufacturers. These kits include all the materials that are required to construct stable and efficient observatory domes, without having to use raw materials like wooden planks, the dome is constructed from scratch.
These DIY kits usually include the following:
- Fibreglass dome quadrants which are used to construct the actual weatherproof dome
- Fibreglass shutter and fittings
- The hardware needed to put everything together: nuts, wheels, bolts, etc.
- Instruction manual explaining how to put everything together
- Instructions on how to build the walls of your observatory using timber, bricks, etc.
Sometimes the materials are not made from fibreglass, instead plastic and aluminium.
These DIY kits make it possible for most people to have their very own domes without having to spend many thousands of dollars. If cash strapped, it is better to purchase a DIY kit, then to build one from scratch, because these are waterproof and weatherproof. These are very important features to have with any observatory dome, because it has to protect the equipment contained within and has to protect the occupant in different weather conditions. The manufacturing of domes is definitely a niche industry and there are not a lot of companies that produce, just a handful around the world. However, these companies specialise in the construction of domes and so can be trusted to provide quality products. In order to find some of these companies, all that required is a quick search engine search. When purchasing a dome it is a good idea to buy from companies that are closest. This is because domes are fairly large and bulky items to ship and the shipping and handling costs can be extreme. Also, farther the company, the longer it will take for the shipment to be delivered, thereby increasing the chance of damage occurring to the dome during transit.