The Cordell-Lorenz Observatory

The Cordell-Lorenz Observatory is used for education and research at The University of the South located in Sewanee, TN. We are located on the roof of Carnegie Hall, just north of All Saints Chapel on the main quad of the University along University Ave. Enter the stairwell from the archway between Carnegie and the Chapel and go to the third floor. Follow the signs up one more flight of stairs to the roof. The Observatory has a 1897 vintage 6 inch Alvan Clark refractor located in the main dome and several other telescopes between 3.5 and 12.5 inch aperture. Public observation sessions are every Thursday from 8 until 10 PM when the University is in session (mid August through mid December and mid January through mid May ).


New Equipment

We have recently installed two new telescopes at the Cordell-Lorenz Observatory at The University of The South. They are mounted on permanent pier mounts inside a small roll-off structure. When weather permits, the building is just rolled off from over the mounted telescopes and observations can begin without the problems of mounting and orienting the telescopes. One of these new scopes is a 12.5 inch f/4.5 Cave-Astrolla Newtonian telescope. It provides a wide field of view for large and dim celestial objects. It will be used for public observations and wide field electronic imaging. The second new telescope is a Meade LX200 12 inch f/10 , adaptable to f/6.3, SCT (Schmidt-Casegrain Telescope ). This telescope was purchased primarily from donations from alumni. It is computer controlled and has over 64,000 objects stored in its memory. The telescope can automatically slew to any object which is above the horizon. The telescope tracks the objects very accurately and is used primarily for electronic imaging. With our ST-8 and ST-6 electronic CCD cameras we can see objects as dim as 20 th magnitude in a five minute exposure. We are using the new telescopes to look for supernovae in other galaxies and for new comets and asteroids in our own solar system. The light pollution from several newly installed and renovated streetlights is causing an increasing problem with viewing of dim astronomical objects from the Observatory - we should be able to see dimmer objects with our new telescopes but they are lost in the increasing glow from the streetlights. If the lights were better shielded more light could get to the ground where it is needed and less would get into the sky where it is s a problem.


CCD Images

We use the equipment at the Observatory for observing projects in our astronomy classes. We have three main topics for projects: comets and asteroids, galaxies and supernovae, and variable stars. Some example images are shown below.

Comet Hale-Bopp

We have been imaging Comet Hale-Bopp since April, 1996. Our images are presented here in chronological order, with the date given in the image name.

April 17, 1996

April 24, 1996

May 14, 1996

Sept 11, 1996

Sept 18, 1996 close up of jets

Sept 29, 1996

Oct 9, 1996

Oct 12, 1996

Oct 15, 1996

Oct 30, 1996

Nov 23, 1996

Nov 23, 1996 with satellite

Nov 23, 1996 close up of jets

Nov 24, 1996

Dec 3, 1996

Dec 4, 1996

Dec 9, 1996

Dec 9, 1996 close up of jets

Feb 12, 1997

March 7, 1997 ST-6 with 60 mm lens

March 12, 1997 ST-6 with 60 mm lens

March 12, 1997 with 200 mm camera lens

March 20, 1997 with 28 mm camera lens

April 10, 1997 ST-8 with 200 mm lens


Comet Tabur

In the fall of 1996 we obtained some images of the interesting new comet, Comet Tabur. This comet was apparently a small piece of Comet Liller which broke off of the comet at its last passge by the Sun. The comet brightened very rapidly, and then dissipated into a dust cloud and became very dim and diffuse. Here are a chronological series of images taken with our SBIG ST-6 CCD camera.


Sept 7, 1996

Sept 28, 1996

Sept 29, 1996

Oct 7, 1996

Oct 10, 1996

Oct 11, 1996



Galaxies and Supernovae

Here are some of our recent images of galaxies and supernovae taken with our new SBIG ST-8 CCD camera.







NGC 3628

NGC 4565

NGC 3147 with supernova 1997 bq

NGC 4680 with supernova 1996 bp

Possible pre-discovery image of SN 1997bs in M66

Wide Angle Images

We have recently been using an ST-8 CCD camera attached to a 28-200 mm zoom camera lens. This allows for a wide field CCD image. Some examples are shown below.


M24 region of the Milky Way at 100 mm

M6/M7 at 70 mm

M6 at 200 mm

M7 at 200 mm

M8/M20 region in Sagittarius at 200 mm

Milky Way below M8 in Sagittarius at 100 mm