The DeWitt Observatory

At the heart of Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory is the 24″ Seyfert Telescope.  Installed in 1953, thousands of visitors peek through it annually at our various public events.  The Seyfert Telescope, however, is not oldest telescope telescope still used at Dyer Observatory.  In the 1930s, John H. (“Jack”) DeWitt, one of the key figures responsible for the inception of Dyer Observatory twenty years later,  constructed a 12″ reflecting telescope and a small observatory (pictured above) off of Observatory Drive in Nashville, Tennessee.  In 1987, the DeWitt Telescope was installed on the roof of Dyer Observatory along with its dome.  Twenty years later, the aging dome was replaced with a new fiberglass dome. The original dome, however, was not forgotten – it was first installed behind the observatory and then later installed at its present location near the front gate of Dyer Observatory.

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Tucked up among the wooded hilltops of northern Brentwood, Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory is considered by many to be a hidden treasure of the area. Visitors to our satellite campus not only learn about some of the cutting-edge discoveries and science in astronomy but they also get a dose of nature, history, and many other things while here. Over the years, we at Dyer Observatory have made the preservation of our facility and grounds a key mission. Preservation not only entails things such as maintaining our telescopes — it also includes keeping a record of days passed. Since 1953, we have amassed a number of interesting images, pieces of equipment, and ephemera. Every day tends to bring new surprises. In continuing our tradition of public education and outreach, Stellar Finds regularly provides an image and description of the diverse paraphernalia associated with Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory and the history of astronomy at Vanderbilt University.

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