Santa Monica College Observatory
Sea West partnered with Icon West to build a state-of-the-art observatory for Santa Monica College.
About the observatory
With an enrollment of over 30,000 students, the campus of Santa Monica College in California required a state-of-the-art observatory that will operate atop their brand new science and engineering building. At the heart of the observatory is a PlaneWave CDK700 observatory system that will be utilized for student and professor-led research and educational programs. Along side the main observatory are multiple pier spots where smaller telescopes will be used for visual observing, including specially design telescopes for safe viewing of the Sun.
Santa Monica College was in need of a new building for their engineering and science department. The college understood the importance of having an observatory available to the students and faculty for research and educational programs. As a result, the Division of the State Architect in California placed the observatory out for public bid and Sea West was chosen as a contractor for providing consulting in addition to installing the observatory dome. The observatory includes a 20.5’ Ash Dome and PlaneWave CDK700 observatory system along with numerous smaller telescopes for visual observing outside of the main observatory dome.
Students and faculty can log into the telescope over the internet to remotely schedule data collection via scheduling software, as well as perform virtual star parties. The software integrates with the telescope, cameras, dome, and weather station to ensure optimal data collection is occurring under safe weather conditions. If a weather-related event occurs such as high-winds, or if precipitation is detected, then the observatory’s emergency shutdown procedure is activated to park the telescope and close the dome.
Successful projects require teamwork and collaboration. Sea West partnered with the general contractor, Icon West, to ensure the Santa Monica College observatory delivered a professional, modernized, facility to the students and faculty.
Greg Stafford of Observatory Automation Solutions provided the dome control system, so that the observatory can operate remotely over the internet.