Sea West Observatories Collaborates with Jackson College to Unveil Cutting-Edge Campus Observatory

Aug 22, 2023

Jackson College Observatory

In a significant leap forward for astronomical exploration and education, Sea West Observatories successfully installed an innovative observatory at Jackson College.

This remarkable achievement is a testament to collaboration and innovation, showcasing how Sea West and its partners are advancing the frontiers of astronomy.

A Glimpse into the Observatory

Jackson College’s vision for an observatory encompassing astrophotography, research, and visual observing has come to life through a carefully crafted layout and conceptual design. To realize this vision, Sea West worked closely with the Jackson College team, ensuring that the layout and design aligned seamlessly with their objectives. 


Project Scope and Vision

Jackson College embarked on the creation of a world-class observatory to empower their astronomy department and serve as a beacon of public outreach. Partnering with R.W. Mercer and Sea West, the college set out to bring this vision to fruition.

Central to the observatory’s design is a prominent main dome, complemented by four external concrete piers to accommodate smaller telescopes. Focusing on robotic operation, Sea West integrated the dome with an observatory management system, a weather station, and an all-sky camera. This advanced technology enables remote operation from anywhere in the world with an internet connection and facilitates autonomous imaging scheduling. The heart of the 18.6′ Ash Dome features a PlaneWave CDK700 telescope, manufactured locally in Michigan, just a short 30-minute drive away. The CDK700 telescope boasts an Optec instrument complete with a wide-field deep space Moravian Instruments C5-100 camera, planetary camera, live streaming color camera, and a Shelyak eShel fiber-fed spectrograph.

A Collaborative Triumph

Key to the observatory’s realization is the collaborative synergy between partners, working collectively to bring innovation to life. Greg Stafford, of Observatory Automation Solutions, played a pivotal role in enhancing the observatory’s automation capabilities. PlaneWave Instruments, with their expertise in telescope installation, supplied the CDK700 telescope, supporting the observatory’s technological ability. This collective effort paved the way for the observatory’s success and the fulfillment of Jackson College’s aspirations for a sophisticated and functional facility.


We want to thank the team of partners and vendors who contributed to this achievement:

A Bright Future for Astronomical Exploration

The completion of the Jackson College observatory stands as a testament to what collaborative innovation can achieve. It embodies the remarkable strides that can be made when visionary minds come together to push the boundaries of knowledge and exploration. Sea West Observatories, along with its esteemed partners, continues to pave the way for an exciting future of astronomical discovery and education.

Jackson College Observatory