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Wed, Oct. 16

Observatory has been studying the heavens for 110 years

Percival Lowell founded the observatory near Flagstaffin 1894. It has grown into one of the world's largest private nonprofit astronomy research observatories.

Courtesy photo

Located approximately 70 to 80 miles northeast of Prescott, Lowell Observatory astronomers study the solar system and its evolution, research astronomical phenomena and inform the public about their results via outreach programs.

Percival Lowell founded the observatory, now one of the world's largest private nonprofit astronomy research observatories, in 1894.

It features nine telescopes at a pair of different sites in Flagstaff. Employees have equipped a number of the apparatuses with electronic cameras and spectrographs to raise their data-gathering capabilities.

The famous 24-inch Alvan Clark Refractor — Lowell Observatory's main research telescope for years after it was first situated on Mars Hill in 1896 — remains operational, though only for public education programs.

The telescope played a major role in Lowell's studies of Mars and, decades later during the 1960s, in the U.S. Air Force's direct mapping of the moon for NASA's Apollo landing.

Lowell's astronomers study the Milky Way, asteroids approaching Earth, comets, and the sun's stability, among other pertinent topics. They also have the capability to explore the universe using the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as NASA's Cassini and Galileo spacecraft.

The observatory raises money for its projects through federal research grants, the Lowell Endowment, and gifts and grants from private foundations, corporations and individuals.

To find out more information about the observatory and/or public programs and tours, call 928-774-3358 or visit Lowell's Web site at www.lowell.edu.

Contact the reporter at dcook@prescottaz.com

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