Lowell Observatory

The Lowell Observatory is one place I had wanted to vist for a while. Part of this was its connection with the Perth Observatory where I undertook my Honours project using the 24" telescope there on loan from the Lowell observatory. I finally had the chance in 2012 while passing through Flagstaff on my way home from a conference.

Established in 1894 by the amateur(???) astronomer Percival Lowell, the Lowell Observatory is one of the largest private observatories in the USA. The original observatory is located on top of Mars Hill, just outside Flagstaff in Arizona. In siting the observatory in a location that was most suitable in terms of weather, seeing, etc, rather than the most convienient, Lowell pioneered what is now standard proceedure for choosing telescope locations. In addition to Mars Hill, the observatory has several large telescopes located at a darker site at Anderson Mesa, about 20km southeast for Flagstaff. Unfortunately I did not have sufficient time to visit this location. :-(

The observatory has an excellent visitor's facility and taking a tour of the premises and nighttime viewing through the 24" Clark telescope are well worth the visit.

The Clark telescope building which Lowell used extensively in his studies of Mars and Venus.

The 13" astrograph building used by Tombaugh to discover Pluto.

21" telescope dome.

18" telescope tube and mount on display with the visitor's centre in the background.

The views from the observatory of the surrounding hills are magnificent.