Do you know what we baby boomers want as we head toward retirement? Thank God it's Thursday, so that the New York Times' Home and Garden section can tell us! According to today's Times, "they want challenging hobbies like astronomy, and have enough cash stashed away to afford to build their own observatories." That's a quote from a busy builder of home observatory domes, which run between $10,000 and $40,000 for the basic equipment and between $50,000 and half a million for the whole stargazing shebang. Here is the observatory-crowned home of a certified public accountant named John Spack. Mr. Spack clearly prefers stargazing to more earthbound pursuits like gardening, but I digress. He says he found it a "pain" to haul out and set up his telescope, so he built a dome atop his Chicago house. "Now if I want to get up at 3 a.m. and look at something, I just open the shutter," he crows.
Now, I know what you're thinking: Heck, if I want to get up at 3 a.m. and look at something, I can flip on an infomercial for that Ronco rotisserie, where the guy roasts the leg of lamb and the whole audience loves the smell and learns about the free tools that come included in the same great price. Well, we decided awhile back to aim our sights higher, ahem. Yes, it's true: We, too, have a home observatory atop the CrazyStable. It was a challenge, given our steeply pitched roof, but nothing a half-million wouldn't fix.
Unlike some of the whiny neighbors described in the Times article, who pestered their visionary neighbors about the cosmetics of a domestic dome, our block has been fine with it--thank God we're not in a designated New York City landmark district!
This being an old house, we went for a vintage vibe in the interior, carefully chosen to mesh with the circa-1910 CrazyStable. Here is Spouse seeking a peek at the Milky Way after a hard day at the Planetarium.
We've encountered just one problem, however. Despite our use of all the latest digital technology to reduce the urban light pollution, we have yet to see a single star. Our Home Observatory Consultant says he's stumped, but is continuing to tweak the hardware and the programming. You see, no matter what setting we use, or where we point our telescope, we see only one strange and disturbing image:
We are hoping it is some distortion caused by solar flares.