New Heights: Sea West Observatories Construction of Santa Monica College’s Innovative Observatory

Aug 21, 2023

Santa Monica College Observatory

This joint endeavor sets the stage for cutting-edge astronomical exploration, education, and seamless collaboration.

Exciting news emerges from Santa Monica College as Sea West Observatories, in collaboration with Icon West, proudly unveils the completion of a cutting-edge observatory atop the college’s state-of-the-art science and engineering building. This groundbreaking achievement marks a dynamic partnership that showcases the fusion of expertise, ushering in a new era of astronomical exploration and education.

A Hub of Discovery

Designed as a hub for discovery, this iconic facility propels student-led research initiatives to the forefront of astronomical exploration. The centerpiece of the observatory is the impressive PlaneWave CDK700 telescope, encased within a 22.6′ Ash Dome. Additionally, dedicated pier spots are positioned to house smaller telescopes, tailored for visual observations and safe solar viewing.

Seamless Collaboration

The success of this visionary project owes much to the collaboration between Sea West Observatories and Icon West. Guided by the Division of the State Architect in California, Sea West orchestrated the installation, dome construction, and smooth integration of the telescope systems, blending state-of-the-art technology with architectural finesse.

Exploration Without Boundaries

This observatory opens doors to exploration by enabling remote access for students and faculty members. An intuitive scheduling software empowers users to remotely engage with the telescope systems, facilitating data collection and virtual star-gazing sessions. The software interfaces seamlessly with the telescope, cameras, dome, and weather station, ensuring precise data collection under optimal atmospheric conditions. In case of unfavorable weather, an automated emergency shutdown protocol comes into play, safeguarding the telescope and dome.

A Collaboration for Progress 

The significance of this milestone speaks to the power of collaboration and innovation and reflects the heights attainable when expertise aligns with shared goals. This observatory signifies scientific progress and our journey toward the unknown.

Contributions from partners like CannonDesign, Observatory Systems led by Paul Gardner, Observatory Automation Solutions led by Greg Stafford, PlaneWave Instruments, and Ash Manufacturing Co. have elevated the observatory’s status as a landmark of scientific advancement.

Setting New Horizons

As the Santa Monica College observatory embarks on its journey of exploration, the combined efforts of Sea West Observatories and Icon West, along with a team of accomplished collaborators, promise a transformative voyage of discovery and education. This partnership sets a course for new horizons in astronomical research and innovation.
Santa Monica College Observatory