LOWELL OBSERVATORY

Where: Flagstaff Arizona
When: February 16th & 17th, 2013 / October 12th, 2013

Lowell Observatory was founded by Percival Lowell one of the historic astronomers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Lowell was made famous by his observations of Mars - though his theories about the "canals" on Mars turned out to be untrue.  Lowell Observatory hired Clyde Tombaugh in the late 1920s to search for the theorized "Planet X" - believed to exist beyond Neptune.  In February 1930 after hundreds of photographs and many nights of observations Tombaugh succeeded in discovering Planet X - now called Pluto.

I have been to Lowell Observatory three times.  These images are from the tour of Lowell Observatory that was arranged for me and my fellow docents at Palomar Observatory in February 2013.  Our gracious host - Kevin Schindler - gave us an all access tour of this historic observatory.  Enjoy!

     

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The entrance to the observatory is adorned with the planetary symbols - cool!   They are proud!   The Steele Visitor Center greets you next to the parking lot.
             

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The dome of the Pluto Scope.   Information about the history of this famous observatory.   This is the 13-inch astrograph telescope that Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto with in 1930.   I am "looking" through the telescope (yes I know that the dome is closed)  :)
             

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The dome of the Clark 24-inch refracting telescope.   The backside of the dome.   This is the Clark 24-inch refracting telescope.  One of the largest in the world built for Percival Lowell.   This is Lowell using the Clark Telescope as he studied Mars in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.
             

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Percival Lowell died in 1916.  His body rests in the mausoleum located next to the Clark Telescope.   We were granted access to the interior of the mausoleum.  The sarcophagus is plain but the stained glass ceiling was beautiful!
             
   
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    That is me posing "with" Percy.   The stained glass ceiling of the mausoleum.    
             

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The Rotunda serves as a library, museum, and meeting room.   Inside the Rotunda houses some of the cool equipment used over the years at Lowell.  This is the blink comparator that has copies of the Pluto discovery plates in it showing the movement of Pluto over about a week.   Two pages of their historic guest book displays the names of Gene Shoemaker and some of the NASA astronauts that visited the observatory in the 1960's.  What a couple of "autograph" pages!
             

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The is the Slipher Building - home to many of the offices at Lowell Observatory.   One of the offices was occupied by Clyde Tombaugh (Pluto discoverer).   Clyde Tombaugh's office (now used by someone else).   Cool mural in the hallway showing some of the history of Lowell Observatory.
             

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Kevin took us down to the plate room that houses all of the photographic plates taken at the Observatory over the years.   Here I am holding Plate 171 - the discovery plate that Clyde Tombaugh captured Pluto on in February of 1930.   This is Jean Mueller - she is one of the telescope operators at Palomar Observatory.  She was instrumental in observing and photographing the 2nd Palomar Sky Survey in the 1980s.  She is the discoverer of many comets.   Just a big ass iron meteor sitting on a shelf in the storage room...
             

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Lowell Observatory is home to many telescopes. Here are a few of the historic telescopes used over the years.