Dixon Observatory

Located on the southeastern corner of Stewart Pitch, the Dixon Observatory houses state-of-the-art equipment that gives students and teachers the opportunity to make detailed observations of both bodies within the solar system as well as deep space obCynthia and Tom Dixonjects. In addition, the tracking mount and CCD camera allows students to conduct advanced astro-imaging of faint galaxies and nebulae.

The building and equipment were gifts of Cynthia and Tom Dixon in 2000. Tom Dixon held a number of roles during his tenure at Berkshire School from 1961-1976 and 1980-2000, including science teacher, Director of Technology and Dean of Students. He and his wife, Cynthia, a music teacher and the director of the equestrian team at Berkshire, shared a love of the arts and astronomy.

Observatory Equipment:

  • Sam Cabot '13 and his mentor Dan Spear in Dixon Observatory14” Meade LX200gps Mount/Telescope with equatorial wedge. The telescope has the ability to identify and track stars across night sky over long periods of time given an accurate polar alignment (aligning the mount with the celestial pole).
  • SBIG ST-7E CCD camera – Black and White, low-noise, high-quality camera designed for exposures ranging from .11 seconds to hours. Color pictures are obtained from combining photos taken through red, green and blue filters.
  • Software – CCD Ops is used for controlling the camera; The Sky 6 iOrions virtual sky software that gives positions of objects at any given location and time; the school is also exploring the use of software that may allow us to control the telescope and even the dome itself with the computer.
  • Image Intensifier – Eyepiece that uses night-vision technology to boost the contrast and brightness of faint objects such as nebulae and galaxies for observational purposes.
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