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Dyer Observatory
Dyer Observatory logo.png
Dyer Observatory logo
Organization Vanderbilt University
Location Brentwood, Tennessee
Coordinates
Altitude 345 metres (1,132 ft)
Established 1953
Website
Dyer Observatory
Telescopes
Seyfert 24-inch reflector
Arthur J. Dyer Observatory
Arthur J. Dyer Observatory Brentwood TN 2014.jpg
Location 1000 Oman Dr., Brentwood, Tennessee
Area 9 acres (36,000 m2)
Built 1953
NRHP reference No. 09000114
Added to NRHP March 6, 2009

The Dyer Observatory, also known as the Arthur J. Dyer Observatory, is an astronomical observatory owned and operated by Vanderbilt University. Built in 1953, it is located in Brentwood, Tennessee, and is the only university facility not located on the main campus in Nashville. The observatory is named after Arthur J. Dyer, who paid for the observatory's 24-foot (7.3 m)-wide dome, and houses a 24-inch (610 mm) reflecting telescope named for astronomer Carl Seyfert. Today, the observatory primarily serves as a teaching tool; its mission is to interest children in the fields of science and engineering. The observatory was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 6, 2009.

History

Vanderbilt's first observatory was housed on the campus itself. It was equipped with a 6-inch (150 mm) refracting telescope and was the site of E. E. Barnard's earliest astronomical work. Barnard would eventually discover 16 comets and the fifth moon of Jupiter, receive the only honorary degree Vanderbilt has ever awarded, and have the on-campus observatory named in his honor. However, that on-campus observatory would eventually prove insufficient for the university's needs.

When Seyfert joined the university's faculty in 1946, he lobbied for increasing the astronomy department's modest course offerings and for a new observatory. He solicited donations from over 80 Nashville businesses to outfit the new observatory and convinced Dyer, owner of Nashville Bridge Company, to donate the funds for and to install the observatory's dome. When the observatory opened in December 1953, Seyfert was named its director, and, after his death, the 24-inch (610 mm) telescope was named in his honor.

The dome was originally painted aluminium, but this caused problems with observations before midnight while the telescope dome cooled. It was subsequently painted white in 1963, which significantly reduced the temperature of the dome and improved observations.

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