Observatory domes are used by a wide range of people and organisations. There are different kinds of observatories and the differences are usually in terms of size and features. There are very big observatories that are used by scientific labs, companies, museums and agencies. The medium-sized ones are used in schools and colleges. Small domes are used by individuals in the privacy of their own gardens. The main purpose of domes is to safely house the equipment used for studying and observing celestial and terrestrial bodies and occurrences. Such equipments include telescopes and different kinds of specialised photographic and imaging equipments. Another purpose of these observatories is to shield out the external lighting, such as neighbours’ outdoor lights, from negatively affecting the views of the sky. Observatory domes also protect the occupants from various weather conditions.
Personal domes are excellent; because even amateur astronomers can spend time doing what they love; looking at and studying the stars. Basic Observatory domes include the dome itself, and the shutters on the top, which can be opened when dome is in use. The entire observatory structure can be purchased, or just the observatory dome. When only the dome is purchased, it is big enough to allow the occupant to sit comfortably (depending on height) inside the observatory. However, owners can construct mounts using timber, bricks, etc., thereby making it taller and enabling a standing room.
When domes are purchased from manufacturers, no matter their size or add-ons, they must have the following features:
1. They must be weatherproof against extreme heat and cold, winds, hail and snow.
2. They have to be water-proof or leak-proof, when it rains or snows.
3. They should have low maintenance, which should only require a wipe down with some water and soap, few times a year.
The observatory domes of different heights are priced differently. The most common domes that are purchased for personal use are 2.2 metres and 2.7 metres in size. The size of the observatory not only determines the level of comfort of the user, but also the size of telescope which can be used. For example, 2.2 metre observatory domes can comfortably accommodate telescopes that are 12″ in length.
One of the most popular features, for those who can afford, is the motorized domes and shutters. Usually the dome needs to include a mounting system for the telescope. When the dome is motorized it can be synchronized to the mount / telescope. For hard-core astronomers, this is ideal in situations, where they cannot spend hours tending to their equipment while doing a particular project. Motorized dome, synchronized with Telescope Observatory domes, can be used for hours at a time while the project continues. Such projects usually include long exposure photography and unattended imaging. The dome should be able to rotate 360 degrees in one minute. Smaller dome enables quicker rotation and bigger dome, slower rotation.
Most companies that manufacture and sell domes make these in a select number of colours such as white, blue, green and red. But, there are other companies that are more adaptable to the needs of their customers. For example, if an observatory dome is to be placed in a backyard in a residential area where there are certain zoning and other regulations, the owner may only be allowed to erect structures that are with certain colours. Some companies supply domes in specified colours, but at an extra cost.