It’s a warm, quiet evening as Simon Bailey opens up the back door and heads out into the yard. Walking along the garden path he hears the sounds of crickets but they go silent as he approaches, fearing that he is a predator. They soon realise Simon is no threat, he’s just heading out to his Space DIY Observatory.
The conditions this night are crystal clear, all the stars are outshining brightly and every now and then you’ll see one falling. It’s the perfect evening…
Ever since his dad (who worked for NASA) took Simon on a trip to the Orroral Valley Tracking Station in 1981, he’s had a fascination with space and in what lies in the darkness beyond our natural eyesight. One of his most exciting memories was seeing the tracking of the Space Shuttle Columbia. It’s this experience that turned Simon into a budding astronomer.
Using his handyman skills and a regular shed he purchased from Cheap Sheds, Simon was able to construct his very own private observatory in his backyard. These kinds of observatories generally cost over $5000 but Simon, using his scientific and mathematics skills, managed to complete his For just $1500!
The observatory has insulation plus a floating roof so that it can be slid off when he is watching the night sky.
Other fascinating features he has installed are:
- Solar Passive Chiming which keeps the temperature down in the shed
- Air inlet attached to water tank, which ensures water-cooled air circulates through the shed
- Integrating technology called “Twine” which is a little piece of electronics that will tweet things online like the temperature and when Simon uses the observatory.
The construction of the observatory has been slow at times due to the excessive summer heat in country NSW. However, his fans have been following Simon on twitter @SkySlab as his project progressed. Despite the climate, the observatory is now complete. You’ll find him in the observatory every night the sky is clear.
Simon’s passion for astronomy has also rubbed off on others. His daughter who is so proud of him, loves spending time outdoors gazing at the night sky and all of its beauty, the mood being her favourite.
Simon has clearly shown that it’s easy to follow your passion, and also affordable if you do it right. He has shown that with a little bit of resourcefulness and dedication, one can achieve anything. And what better way to experience the ‘father daughter bond’ than out under the stars.
But don’t be mistaken… Simon may not have a professional background in the field but he is no amateur at capturing great space visuals. You’ll see some of his images in this article and I’m sure you’ll agree they are nothing short of spectacular.
Who knows… maybe one day we will see Simon on the cover of an ‘Astronomy Magazine’!
PHOTOS BY SIMON BAILEY
P.S. I would like to acknowledge another budding Cheap Shed Astronomer, Thava Kumar. He too built his own Observatory in his backyard with a lot less space to work with. His project too is inspiring and you can read his story here