Discover something amazing this fall with Jackson College’s new Astronomical Observatory! Gain an unobstructed view of the night sky like never before.
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Sept. 11, 2023
Top Research Instrument
This observatory will contain a high-powered telescope protected by a rotating dome that will open to view the stars and planets! The state-of-the-art telescope is model CDK700 made by PlaneWave Instruments featuring a 700-millimeter aperture to pinpoint stars out to a 70mm image circle. The telescope features an eyepiece that may be viewed from a seated position, fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The project area includes the observatory, a concrete pad where guests may bring their own telescopes and plug into a power supply, and parking nearby.
Renewed Interest in Space Prompts Opportunity
This top-quality research telescope will enhance the science curriculum while also welcoming astronomy buffs and stargazers from the community.
With a renewed interest in space and space exploration on the national and international level thanks to devices such as the James Webb Space Telescope, Jackson College President Dan Phelan saw an opportunity. While STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) enrollment declining, particularly among students of color, providing students with hands-on, practical STEM activities with a telescope provides an opportunity to re-energize students’ interest and bridge achievement gaps.
From Idea to Completion
Bringing an observatory to campus offers a distinctive opportunity for the College. President Phelan had worked with PlaneWave a few years ago in an economic development effort that resulted in their location in Adrian, Mich. The College has worked with the company to provide course offerings at the Lenawee campus. Partnering with PlaneWave further, through the purchase of a telescope and related support, offers another opportunity to expand educational offerings.
While construction continues and a ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for August, some plans for the facility will include: use by students in college courses, non-credit courses, community education (public viewing nights) and interest clubs.
Overall building and related equipment cost will be roughly $750,000. A sum of $377,000 is provided by Congressionally Designated Spending (CDS) through the Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE), made possible by the efforts of U.S. Sen. Gary Peters. Balance is being provided by the College’s Capital Master Plan Fund.