Stellar Nights program Aug. 17 to focus on ‘dark energy,’ quasars and how galaxies are born

Photo courtesy of Sloan Digital Sky Survey

The Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory is celebrating the anniversary of “The Sloan Digital Sky Survey: Ten Years Observing the Universe” with a series of special Stellar Nights lectures this fall. “Galaxies, Quasars and the Universe” will be given by Andreas Berlind on Tuesday, Aug. 17, at 7 p.m. at the Observatory.

Berlind is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Vanderbilt University. The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) is one of the most ambitious and influential surveys in the history of astronomy. Over eight years of operations, it obtained deep, multi-color images covering more than a quarter of the sky and created 3-dimensional maps containing more than 930,000 galaxies and more than 120,000 quasars.  

Reservations are required, and the cost is $5 per person or $10 per family. Reservations can be made by visiting the website at and clicking on the calendar.  

 The next program in the series will be held on Sept. 21 and will focus on information the SDSS has provided about the Milky Way galaxy.

  The SDSS is one of the most influential astronomical surveys in history. It uses a 2.5-meter telescope at Apache Point Observatory, in New Mexico, and is equipped with a 120-megapixel camera that can image 1.5 square degrees of sky at once. The latest survey currently being conducted, known as SDSS-III, is examining dark energy, the evolution of the Milky Way galaxy and the architecture of exoplanetary systems 

Stellar Nights at Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory are special lectures and programs geared for teens and adults.  These events typically feature a speaker followed by a telescope viewing, weather permitting.  Stellar Nights are cancelled only in the case of severe weather.

The observatory is located at 1000 Oman Drive, off Granny White Pike between Old Hickory Boulevard and Otter Creek Road, near Radnor Lake. For more information, visit