Sea West Observatories Installs Mobile Observatory at Georgia State’s CHARA ARRAY

May 3, 2024


San Dimas, CA – May 2, 2024 – Sea West Observatories is proud to have participated on a groundbreaking advancement in astronomical research with the installation of a new mobile observatory at the Georgia State University’s renowned Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy (CHARA) Array, located at the Mount Wilson Observatory in California.

Sea West has collaborated with GSU in the past on the design-build of their interferometer that is comprised of six 1-meter aperture telescopes. Fast forward to 2024, the—GSU team introduces a seventh telescope into the array (a PlaneWave Instruments 1-meter).

Mounted on a versatile trailer/transport engineered and fabricated by Sea West to include an Ash Manufacturing 14’-6” dome, this new relocatable observatory is the next step forward in the ongoing efforts to increase the already impressive capabilities of the existing 339-meter diameter CHARA Array.

Jason Simison, CEO at Sea West Enterprises, expressed his enthusiasm for the project, stating, “The addition of this mobile observatory opens up exciting opportunities for astronomers worldwide to delve deeper into the mysteries of the cosmos. At Sea West Observatories, we’re proud to contribute to the expansion of scientific knowledge and discovery.”

Douglas Gies, Director of the CHARA Array and Regents’ Professor of Physics and Astronomy, emphasized the pivitol role of collaboration with Sea West in advancing GSU’s astronomical pursuits and the groundbreaking impact of the new telescope. “Georgia State University has had a long and beneficial relationship with Sea West Enterprises in our astronomical activities with the CHARA Array interferometer at Mount Wilson Observatory. Recently we sought out Sea West’s help to build the enclosure system for a new mobile observatory at CHARA. This was the first time we had considered placing a telescope on a trailer, and we anticipated many challenges. Sea West helped us to design, build, and ultimately install the mobile observatory system on site. This unique undertaking was made possible thanks to the broad expertise, communication skills, and enthusiastic participation of the Sea West staff. We are grateful for all their help in launching this new chapter in scientific exploration at Mount Wilson Observatory.” said Gies.

Georgia State University has collaborated with the University of Limoges in France to implement new fiber optic technology, facilitating seamless integration of the new telescope with the existing array. This mobile observatory project – the “CHARA Michelson Array Pathfinder” (CMAP), represents a significant step towards a larger diameter array, leveraging fiber optics to connect additional telescopes and enhance observational capabilities.

With observations expected to commence later this year, the CMAP mobile observatory is the cornerstone in the effort to increase the array diameter (from 330M to 550M).