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Meet the Astronomer – Friday September 7 at 7pm

Solving Big (Data) Problems with Small Telescopes

Technological advancements in the past two decades have led to a dramatic rise in the number of cost-effective, small-aperture telescopes (< 4 inches in diameter) which monitor large portions of the sky on a nightly basis. Small telescopes have contributed to thousands of observations, of millions of stars, at regular intervals during the past decade. These observations have led to the discovery and understanding of many elementary questions in planetary and stellar astrophysics, but have created a new problem for astronomers: There is too much data to investigate! I will explore my experiences using small telescopes, our best efforts to explore our increasingly large datasets, and some of the more peculiar discoveries for the past two decades including: more than 5000 exoplanets, stars with evolving pulsations, binary stars with separations larger than a parsec, and some phenomena which have yet to be fully explained. This talk is geared toward the general public.

A Question & Answer session will follow. The Seyfert telescope will open for viewing if weather permits. The talk is handicapped accessible, but the Seyfert is on the second floor and only accessible by stairs.

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS for Meet The Astronomer

Dr. Ryan Oelkers has been a postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University in the Physics and Astronomy department since May of 2016. He earned a bachelors degree in mathematics from Stevens Institute of Technology in 2009, a masters degree in mathematics from Northwestern University in 2010, a masters degree in physics from Texas A&M University in 2015, and a doctorate in physics from Texas A&M University in 2016. Dr. Oelkers is a member of the NASA-TESS science team, and is a key contributor to the target selection for the survey. His research focuses on the identification of stellar variability in large photometric data sets, and he has independently identified tens of thousands of variable stars.

background image from NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage team (STSci/AURA)


Open House Days & Telescope Nights

Tickets are available one month before each event. Please note that these events sell out quickly, so plan ahead to avoid disappointment. Visit our Open House Days and Telescope Nights pages for tickets and more information.

There are no Open House or Telescope Night dates in the months of December, January or February, because Dyer Observatory is closed.

Bluebird on the Mountain Concerts

This concert series presented with the world famous Bluebird Cafe is scheduled around glorious sunsets on the portico of the Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory.  Guests are encouraged to bring blankets, lawn chairs, food, and drink and relax on the Observatory’s front lawn to enjoy a fabulous evening of sunset, music, and stars.

Individual concert tickets are available on the first day of the month prior to the show date at noon (i.e. the Oct 6 concert tickets become available Sept 1 at 12pm.) Please note that tickets sell out quickly. A ticket is $135 for a carload with up to 8 guests.

Please go to our Bluebird on the Mountain page for more information.

CLICK HERE for tickets for Bluebird on the Mountain and other Dyer Observatory events.

Visiting Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory

Due to the volume of public and private events, visits to Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory are available by appointment only. Public event dates and times are listed on our calendar, and we are also available for school field trips or community tours with reservations. Before planning a visit, please call us at 615-373-4897 or contact us here.


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Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory
1000 Oman Drive, Brentwood TN 37027
phone: (615) 373-4897