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The Pennine Observatory

Displayed at the International Astronomy Show in 2016, and later installed in the North of England, the Pennine Observatory features a unique roof design that rolls away to the rear, rather than over the warm room.

Designed to make the most of a difficult site, the Pennine Observatory is fairly standard in most respects – it features an 8×8′ observatory with a 4×8′ warm room, clad in our well-loved tanalised shiplap timber and topped with a slender apex roof.  Due to the shape of the site, and taking into account the horizons on each side however, it was clear that a different approach was required for the rolling roof: it would need to roll off both the observatory and the warm room, to the rear of the building.

This alternative roll-off required more than just a simple design change: a specially-designed roof was required that offered a lower eaves and apex height than our standard designs – essentially a “slimline” roof – to ensure that it would be possible to stand up in the warm room without exceeding the maximum height of 2.5m required for permitted development.

To keep the horizons low for the observer, two steps are required between the warm room and observatory – something that is only possible with our unique, suspended floor design.  This allowed a generous 5’10” of headroom in the warm room but places the top of the wall near eye level in the observatory!

The warm room itself remains fully enclosed even with the roof rolled off – it has its own insulated ceiling, keeping warmth where it is needed and preventing any hot air currents from disrupting observations.

The owner requested a few additional items which were easily accommodated – an external power socket to the rear, plus PIR-activated exterior lighting (switchable from inside of course) extended the original electrical specification.  A frosted window for the warm room provides light whilst keeping the equipment inside away from prying eyes.

As with many of our observatories, the foundations are straightforward: six paving slabs set at the corners, plus a concrete block on which the pier is mounted.  In this instance, the owner has also installed shingle over a weed membrane to keep maintenance to a minimum.

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