The book kicks off with the pros and cons of many different styles of rolling roof, home built observatories versus the traditional dome type. Lots (and lots) of pictures show what other people have built from the very small and simple looking wooden box to quite large, summer house style 'villas' that few people in the UK would have the money or the space to build.
After that excitement, the book gets down to business by prompting the reader to ask important questions for design including touching on planning permission. This however, despite being a Patrick Moore series book, seems very geared to the US though it does try to throw in words like, "in some countries". The bottom line there is of course that you need to check your own laws in your own country and the book reminds you of that in many places, which is good.
Finally the book proceeds into some plans for construction. These plans are fairly robust, but the book seems to whizz through the construction in less time that it's taken to tell you about other people's builds, discuss the pro's and con's and ask pertinent questions. There is also no real choice in the design except in detail like type of foundations. The book does show some detail on the complexities of the rolling roof part of the design which is good but the 'Building Plans' CD that is included is disappointingly just the books illustrations in electronic format and not any kind of engineering drawings or architectural plans.
To sum up, I would not have bought this book if I'd known it was geared so much towards an American market. I should have known better of course having been thoroughly disappointed with many of the Patrick Moore Practical Astronomy series of books. However, having said that the book has raised one or two questions that my prior research into building a Roll On Roll Off roof observatory had not previously encountered and it was very nice to see so many different home built observatories in the book. All-in-all I quite enjoyed reading it. Most of my time was spent trying to examine detail in the pictures in order to see the detail of what other people had built that the text wasn't explaining though.
I've not yet constructed my back garden observatory, but for sure it will look very little like the plans included in this book (other than being rectangular with a roll-off roof). Indeed, a short internet search will uncover many home-built observatories with their owners keen to describe at length what they have done, what problems they encountered and how they dealt with them. I've found such internet sites (all over the world, not just in the UK) to be a much more fascinating and rewarding read than this book.
I've given it 4 stars because I think for some people this book will be exactly everything that they need, however for me it was some pretty pictures and a couple of good ideas only. It'll rest next to several other Patrick Moore Practical Astronomy Series books on a little used shelf in the bookcase.
This book or one just like it is what you should read before you buy anything building materials, it gives a number of different types and design for an observatory, no book can give you the ideal specification for every location but by reading this book, it will in the end save you a lot of money and heartache. This particular book is very informative, guiding you through from the start to finish of the construction.