In 2012, a profound upgrade of the observatory which included three new telescopes, architectural changes in the viewing space, a new dome, and compatibility with the planetarium created an experience unparalleled anywhere in the Midwest. The main telescope, a remote controllable 20-inch CDK research grade system, will be partnered with 6-inch Takahashi refractor and a Lunt solar telescope for better viewing capabilities and even live observation of the Sun. In addition, high quality CCD image cameras will enable real- time recording and conversion of images into digital photos for use on the planetarium dome. These cameras also will be operable from the planetarium.
Part of a generous gift from the Mike and Adele Acheson family, the observatory improvements complete the total renovation of the astronomy infrastructure at the Institute started last year with upgrades to the planetarium. Since re-opening in October, The new Acheson Planetarium has offered visitors a 360 degree aural experience that delivers images that are three times brighter, crisper and more color saturated than before. In addition, a “green” lighting system for the projection of any color in the spectrum for greater visual effects capabilities, new sound systems and technology deliver the most intense planetarium experience in southeast Michigan.