Observatories come in all shapes and sizes: you can build your own, or purchase one ready-made from a growing number of companies. And you can build an observatory for not much more than the cost of a good telescope. There is even one company, Backyard Observatories, that travels around the country building absolutely first-rate observatories at very reasonable prices.
The advantages of having an observatory are many:
- An accurately polar-aligned telescope ready to use on a moment’s notice (an equatorially-mounted telescope still has many advantages over the alt-azimuth variety)
- Minimal pre-observing and post-observing chores
- A telescope that is already at or near the ambient air temperature (resulting in better images)
- A shelter from wind and the glare of nearby lights
- An organized very special place to do productive astronomical observing, astroimaging, and research with all the tools you need at hand
As an added measure of protection, keep a heavy ply plastic bag over your telescope when not in use (I recommend Warp’s Original Banana Bags®), cinched up around the pier with a bungee cord, with desiccant inside to keep the telescope optics dry (I recommend the Eva-Dry 333) so that mildew doesn’t form on the optical surfaces. Here in the Midwest, humidity is almost always a problem, so unless it is really windy, I use an Astrozap FlexiHeat Dew Shield on the telescope during every observing session as an added measure of protection.
Never sleep more than 90 feet from your telescope.
– Clinton B. Ford (1913-1992)