© All Images Copyright 2003 - 2018 Brad Bates

Brook Mar Observatory

Images of the Cosmos by Brad Bates

Observatory Photos




Click Here For Observatory Construction Photos

I modified the Backyard Observatory Motor manual control with a relay system to control the roof open and close functions by computer.

The Remote Power Outlet is sold as an accessory to the Robofocus. Each 115VAC outlet can be actuated by computer command through a serial port. Visual Basic scripts were written to control the observatory functions automatically. The black cable powers the roof close circuit and the green cable powers the roof open circuit. Below, the white cable powers on the lights for illumination and the 90 deg black cable powers-on the entire mount, telescope(s), camera(s), fans, cooling pumps etc.

Backwall View with new relay / cable system installed. This inexpensive automatic roof opener system cost less than $100 with some cables / wiring from Lowes and a couple relays from Radio Shack. The remote power outlet was obtained from Astromart.

Safety Switch

A close-up view of a safety switch which prevents the roof from closing into the telescope. A wooden coffee stirrer from Starbucks extends the arm of the micro-switch to contact the telescope.

Safety Switch

This safety switch ensures the telescope is "parked" before power is applied to the roof close relay. The roof motor could cause considerable damage to the telescope and mount. Brackets allow adjustment of the actuating arm/microswitch to make sure the telescope is in the proper position.


Windows XP Remote Desktop is used to monitor Observatory Functions via local home network. A web cam, located in the observatory, can be accessed to 'watch" things happen from inside our house.

Click here for Automatic Observatory Startup Script (text file)

  • Powers on Observatory Equipment
  • Turns on Lights, Opens roof, Turns off Lights
  • Starts observatory software "The Sky 6, CCDSoft, Focusmax"
Click here for Automatic Observatory Shutdown Script (text file) This script is initiated after an imaging session from CCD Autopilot program. CCDAutopilot has commanded the Telescope to the "Park" position.
  • Turns on Lights, Closes roof, Turns off Lights
  • Shutsdown observatory software "The Sky 6, CCDSoft, Focusmax"

View of Brook Mar Observatory

Completed Observatory, Roof Closed.

Roof Opened up for Summertime Viewing.

Telescope is in operational position.

Side View of Brook Mar Observatory showing Telescope Room and Separate Warm Room

Roof Opened for Summertime Viewing, The Telescope Room is painted black to reduce light reflections. Four windows open up to reduce thermal gradients and improve astronomical seeing. The roof also contains 2 inches of styrofoam insulation mounted with adhesive and screws on the inside which greatly reduces the Sacramento summertime heat gain on the inside. In Winter the roof closes over and seals off the Warm Room and keeps the room a "toasty" 70 degrees with an electric heater.

Inside Warm Room, equipped with a Laptop and second computer screen, shelves for storage of imaging and telescope equipment and my vintage 1970's Stereo Equipment (no where else to store it!) that plays MP3 files!

Outside Rail system to Roll roof back

Outside Rail System to Support Roof as it rolls off Observatory

Dimmer Under Shelf Light for Night Time Observing

This handy under shelf light on a dimmer switch is great for recording notes. I keep a record of each observing night's conditions, equipment performance and imaging details. It is off during imaging sessions