American Public University Observatory

APUS CDK24, A200 Mount and SBIG Cameras. Installation by Observatory Solutions.

"RANSON - Students in the science and space studies programs at American Public University System won't have to crane their necks to get a good view of the night sky, as the university will open an on-campus observatory in time for the winter semester.

A new Information Technology Center building is currently being constructed at the APUS campus in Ranson, and the observatory's 24-inch, 240-pound PlaneWave Instruments CDK24 telescope will be installed inside a metal dome on the roof of the IT Center.

Muys said the IT Center is expected to be completed this summer, and the cost of the building itself is approximately $7 million. The telescope will be installed and operational in time for the winter semester, Muys said.

"The space studies program is part of APUS' larger STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) initiative that encompasses cross-disciplinary programs," he said. "Students take courses that cover space station, satellite, space craft or transportation systems, as well as courses in planetary and space explorations, space weapons, space weather and astronomy."

Muys said several former NASA astronauts are on staff teaching classes in the space studies program."

by Mary Stortstrom, Journal News

Craning the CDK24 telescope into position. Installation by Observatory Solutions.

Project Details

The American Public University System (APUS) was founded in 1991 by a retired Marine Corps officer who envisioned an innovative way to offer quality and affordable education to our U.S. armed forces. Today, APUS serves a diverse population of more than 100,000 military, public service, and corporate professionals through American Military University and American Public University. They are one of the leading providers of online education, frequently recognized by the prestigious Online Learning Consortium (OLC) for best practices in online education.

Observatory Solutions started working with APUS on the observatory project in 2014. Construction of the Information Technology Center building was well underway in the spring of 2015 and in April the 22.5' Ash dome was installed. Observatory Solutions was onsite in June for polar alignment of the telescope pier, installation of the mount and main telescope and initial setup of the dome and telescope automation systems. We returned in October for final telescope alignment, installation of a secondary telescope, installation of cameras, installation of additional weather monitoring equipment and observatory training. We are currently performing tuning on the systems and writing the observatory documentation.

The observatory consists of the following equipment:

Current weather information and a view of the observatory can be seen at:

Imaging, Telescope, Dome Control and Monitoring Software
Imaging, Telescope, Dome Control and Monitoring Software. Installation by Observatory Solutions.


Instrument Setup
22.5' Ash Dome, PlaneWave CDK24, Tele Vue NP127is, SBIG cameras and the A200 mount. Installation by Observatory Solutions.
PlaneWave CDK24, Tele Vue NP127is, SBIG cameras and the A200 mount. Installation by Observatory Solutions.