Do It Yourself Projects

If you’ve found your way to this page you’ve probably bought your first telescope, contemplating modding it, or building your own. On this page you will find guiadance on how to keep your telescope “well tuned” from aligning the mirrors, to cleaning the optics. There are also tips on how to build your own backyard observatory, which provides the chance to observe at a moment’s notice.

These tips will help ensure you get the most from your telescope, old or new, whether you simply want to care for the optics or build an entire home for it.


Electronic Telescope Focuser

S. Douglas Holland, 13 March 2015

An electronic telescope focuser makes achieving sharp focus easy; Use the pushbutton hand controller for smooth, precise focus adjustments without vibration


Five Reflector Performace Killers

Gary Seronik, 26 October 2014

The Newtonian reflector is one of the most versatile optical configurations ever created. Whether homebuilt or commercially manufactured, a good Newtonian can rival the performance of any optical design.

Outback Travel Scope

Building the Outback Travelscope

Gary Seronik, 26 October 2014

It was finally time to rebuild an 8-inch travelscope so that it could go into a suitcase and arrive safely at any destination.

Radio Telescope Construction - 11

Build a radio telescope at home

Mike Brown, June 2013

What to do with the old satellite dish on the roof?

Starblast Travelscope

A Converted-StarBlast Travelscope

Gary Seronik, 20 June 2012

This ultraportable telescope is ideal for outings in which stargazing is a “maybe” instead of a “definitely.”

Hinge Tracker

Build a Hinge Tracker for Astrophotography

Gary Seronik, 22 May 2012

If you have a DSLR camera and are interested in astronomy, you’ve probably considered dipping a toe into the astrophotography waters. But a camera is only part of the equation — for exposures longer than a few seconds, a tracking mount is usually necessary. Unfortunately, most suitable mounts are relatively bulky, or expensive, or both. But not the hinge tracker. It costs less than $10 to build, takes less than an evening to assemble, and requires no batteries. And best of all, you can put one together even if you’ve never built anything more complicated than Ikea furniture.

Center Dotting

Center-Dotting Your Scope’s Primary Mirror

Gary Seronik, 14 November 2011

There’s no getting around the fact that collimating your reflector telescope (Dobsonian or otherwise) is much easier when the centre of the primary mirror is marked with a paper doughnut. Thankfully, these days a good number of commercially made telescopes come with their mirrors pre-marked. But if your scope isn’t so equipped, don’t worry — the procedure for adding a centre doughnut isn’t difficult. In fact, the hardest part might be convincing yourself that you can take out the primary mirror without inviting disaster.

Nikon20's DIY Dob

Homemade 12.5 inch Dobsonian Telescope

, September 2011

How to build a 12.5 inch closed tube Dobsonian telescope.

Astronomical Practical Jokes

Telescope Maintenance

Celestron, 2011

While your telescope requires little maintenance, there area few things to remember that will ensure your telescope performs at its best.

chained telescope

Tune Up Your Telescope

, 31 July 2008

Telescope tinkering can be fun and rewarding.

Image-stabilized binoculars

Image Stabilize Your Binoculars!

, 6 February 2007

You see much more of the universe in a steady view than in a jiggling view. Change your binocular observing forever with this easy-to-make stabilizer frame.

dome sweet dome

Our Stairway to the Stars

, 25 September 2006

Ever since we first became serious about astronomy more than 20 years ago, we dreamed of having our own backyard observatory.

di Cicco Observatory

Think Big (and Small)

, 29 August 2006

My current observatory is a multilevel structure. It began as a plan to mount my telescopes on the roof of a small barn on the property.

ready for the stars

The Observatories of Sky & Telescope

, 29 August 2006

The backyard observatories of our editorial staff run the gamut from the elegantly simple to the luxuriously complete.

outstanding collimation aid

Collimation Tools

, 8 August 2006

Three tools are commonly used to collimate Newtonian reflectors.


How To Align Your Newtonian Reflector Telescope

, 31 July 31 2006

Accurate optical alignment is neither difficult, mysterious, nor time-consuming. In fact, it’s only three steps away.

doghouse deployed

A Simple Backyard Observatory

, 28 July 28 2006

Size can be deceptive; this small observatory is remarkably practical.

Dirty Mirror

Caring for Your Optics

, 27 July 2006

The mirror in your telescope will probably work fine with a bit of dust on it, but if it’s really dirty, you may want to clean it — carefully!

ready to observe

My Place in the Dark

, 17 July 2006

Twenty weekends and countless trips to the building-supplies store later, I’d done it — I had an observatory to call my own.


A Compact Back-Garden Observatory

, 17 July 2006

A personal telescope shelter doesn’t have to take up a lot of yard space.

Dew Heater

DIY Dew Heater

, 17 July 2006

With just a little electrical know-how you can make an antidew heater that suits your scope.

plenty of elbow room

An Observatory with Sails

, 17 July 2006

After working at Sky & Telescope for nearly a decade I got the chance to build the observatory I’d always wanted.

ready for the stars

My “Flapping Roof” Observatory

, 17 July 2006

By day my observatory looks like an ordinary (if rather grandiose) garden shed. At night the roof sections go down and back up. They “flap” like a bird’s wings.

click here for complete diagram

Offsetting Your Secondary Mirror

, 17 July 2006

The secondary-mirror offset is no doubt the most misunderstood aspect of collimation. Luckily you don’t need to understand it to collimate your instrument.


Accurate Polar Alignment

, 17 July 2006

Long-exposure astrophotography requires an accurately aligned equatorial mount.


DIY Observatory Mistakes to Avoid

, 13 July 2006

Here are a few potential problems that you might not see on your blueprints.

DIY Solar Filter

Build a Solar Filter for Your Telescope

Michael Portuesi, 2001

You can build a solar filter for a large aperture scope for less than $40 (2001 prices), including the solar filter film. This is a great project to build with your kids.

Solar Spectrograph

Build a high resolution spectrograph in 15 minutes

Simon Quellen Field

The daus of dealing with microcontrollers and stepper motors to make building a laboratory quality high resolution spectrograph are long gone. You can now build one at your kitchen table in about fifteen minutes , with a few plumbing parts.

Spectroscopy On A Budget

Richard E. Hill

In this age of kilobuck devices and gadgets, it’s easy to forget that many scientific instruments that will help us understand the world around us in principle are easy to build and afford. Presented here is a design and operating instructions a spectrograp, the total cost of which can, as it was in the author’s case, be less than $10.


Observing Chair

The Budget Astronomer

Observing is an activity best performed while seated. Sitting provides a great deal of stability, which in turn leads to seeing more through the scope, as well as comfort, which allows one to observe longer with less strain. The only problem is, there are very few scopes that have an eyepiece at a constant height. With most scopes, the height of the EP varies significantly with the altitude of the object being observed. With a standard stool, one most either lean over or stretch up in an uncomfortable way to see objects that are not placed so conveniently for your stool.

Poncet Platform1

An Evolved Poncet Platform

R. Duval

Looking for a great way to track stars for your camera or Dobsonian mounted telescope?




Notes from an Amateur Telescope Maker’s Journal, Part 1
Notes from an Amateur Telescope Maker’s Journal, Part 2