I have the only flip top observatory in the world. Or so I like to think. Would you like to see how I open and close my observatory? Read more and see the video. Not many people have my set of circumstances, so I think I have a unique solution to the observatory roof problem.

When I built my observatory, it was quite on a fantastically low budget. It started off as a lift off roof design. This required sliding off the lightweight roof and leaving it on the ground. For many years I dithered with the idea of turning it into a roll off roof, however, whichever way I designed it, I'd always end up blocking the view from one angle or the other.

Please note, that the top half of each side can be removed for low altitude imaging - I can see almost down to the horizon in the southwest. Even the vertical poles slide out of the way to give a clear view of things like Orion coming around the nearby tree. Of course, to enter the observatory you do have to step over the 3 foot high fence... but I am tall chap, so it is no problem.

The method of opening and closing the roof was not satisfactory. It was hassle. Because it was hassle, I was occasionally put off from operating the observatory. The telescope was missing clear skies. Obviously something had to be done.

So a couple of years ago I had an inspiration. I live in a bungalow, as you can see. The best possible place for the observatory was quite close to the house - as you can see. The sloping roof of the house provided the obvious solution. I wasn't going to have a roll off roof, I was going to have a flip top roof!

The roof is hinged near the house. A steel cable runs up the other side of the roof, and a pulley is attached to the top. To operate, all you have to do is pull on one rope to lift the roof to vertical and lower it down on the flat roof. Then I can spend the night making astrophotographs!

As you can see, there is quite a bit of manual effort involved, but it is surprisingly easy. I've not quite devised a way of motorising it - I think that might involve a redesign.