Desert Star Observatory – Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

My summer and winter viewing locations couldn’t be more different. In the summer I have 35 acres of dark skies. In winter I don’t even have 35 feet. That house you see behind the telescope is my neighbor, about 20 feet away. My backyard is a grand total of 18 feet deep. I have to be able to see over my own house and sometimes deal with lights from my neighbors.

All that said, it actually works pretty well. The backyard faces south, overlooking a golf course. So I have a totally unobstructed view of the southern sky. My telescope sits on a slightly elevated pad which allows me to see over my own house for most northerly targets. I’ve located the telescope so I can see Polaris between my house and my neighbors. I can set up my “control room” under the covered patio and have very convenient access to the telescope. When it really gets cold (which sometimes happens, even in Tucson), my control room moves to the kitchen just behind the patio, with cables draped through the window.

Tour of Desert Star Observatory

Click images to enlarge

Even though I am pinched in on three sides, the all-important south view is unobstructed.




In nice weather, my control room is tucked under the patio. My computer and I have some shelter, but I also have a good “connection” with the night sky … great for meteor watching and scanning the heavens with binoculars as I acquire those long exposures. For those really cold desert nights, I just move into my kitchen (behind) and can still keep an eye on what’s going on outside.



My vantage point from the patio control room.