Ferris State University

Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, USA is home to Rawlinson Observatory and a Unitron Model 620, 6 inch Photo-equatorial refractor.  It is currently one of only three complete Model 620’s available for public viewing.  The telescope was ordered in June 1967 with delivery scheduled for December 1967.  It was ordered with all the appropriate Model 620 accessories including the weight driven clock drive and the Model 80 astrograph.  The observatory was closed for about five years, but after some repairs to the dome and modifications to the telescope, it was reopened in November 2014.

I visited the the college and observatory in May 2016 to meet with Tom Brennan, the Observatory Director, and do some observing.  The following photos of the facilities and telescope were taken during that visit.  We had the opportunity to do some solar observing as well as had one partially clear night to observe Jupiter, Mars and a couple of double stars (Mizar, Izar, and Cor Caroli).




Attached are some of the initial requisition documents:

Ferris 620_04 Ferris 620_05 Ferris 620_06

A 1980’s photograph:


Ferris 620_11

Some additional background information on the observatory can be found at these links: http://www.ferris.edu/HTMLS/news/archive/2014/november/rawlinson.htm.  Some additional photos and information are available at these links: http://www.ferris.edu/HTMLS/news/archive/2015/december/rawlinson.htm; and http://www.ferris.edu/HTMLS/alumni/ferrismagazine/archive/2015-spring/files/assets/basic-html/page15.html.