Jackson College Observatory
Sea West designed and built a custom observatory for Jackson College.
About the observatory
Jackson College sought a layout and conceptual design for an observatory that will be used for astrophotography, research, and visual observing. To achieve this goal, Sea West collaborated closely with the Jackson College design team, ensuring a successful layout and design that would meet their needs.
Jackson College needed a world-class observatory built for their astronomy department that would also serve as a public outreach center. Jackson College partnered with R.W. Mercer and Sea West to design and build the observatory, which is centered around a main dome with four additional concrete piers outside for smaller telescopes. With the goals of robotic operation of the main telescope, Sea West coupled the dome to an observatory management system, weather station, and an All-sky camera. With this technology, the observatory can be operated anywhere in the world with an internet connection and can also be scheduled to photograph objects all by itself. At the heart of the 18.5’ Ash-Dome is a PlaneWave CDK700 observatory system, made in Michigan only 30 minutes away. The CDK700 system is equipped with an Optec instrument that has a wide field deep space Moravian Instruments C5-100 camera, planetary camera, live streaming color camera, and Shelyak eShel fiber-fed spectrograph.
To deliver the best possible solutions, Greg Stafford with Observatory Automation Solutions enhanced the observatory’s automation capabilities. Moreover, PlaneWave Instruments played a crucial role by supplying the CDK700 telescope and offering their expertise in telescope installation. This collaborative effort ensured the observatory’s success and the fulfillment of Jackson College’s aspirations for a sophisticated and functional facility.