Cahall Observatory, located on campus near the track/football fields, serves as a state-of-the-art resource for students to look through a telescope and see with their own eyes things that were previously only visible in a textbook. Featuring a fully automated 6-inch Telescope Equipment Corporation apochromatic refractor, and a 70-mm Coronado Solarmax hydrogen-alpha filtered solar telescope, students are able to control the telescopes and camera from any computer on the internet. Moreover, the Observatory features a portable planetarium (or “bubble” as most astro students refer to it), in addition to a 12-inch Meade LX200 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. All three telescopes are piggybacked onto a Paramount ME robotic mount. A Santa Barbara Instruments Group CCD camera and a Canon EOS Rebel are also used for astrophotography.
Cahall Observatory also hosts local students from other schools, opening up the skies to our surrounding community. Every year an Astronomy Fair is held, featuring Thayer student planetarium shows, an open house, and astronomy themed games and activities.
Built in 1994, and given a major upgrade in 2008, the observatory was a generous gift from Thayer alumnus and trustee Peter Cahall ’67, whose father, Dr. W. Lawrence Cahall, had been Science Department Chair in the 1960s. In the mid 1990s, Mr. Cahall was particularly interested in helping Thayer build its science program and, in addition to contributing money to build the observatory, he established endowed funds which continue to support our biology, chemistry, and physics courses.