Flagstaff's Lowell Observatory

Check out the stars and planets from the Arizona observatory where Pluto was first discovered.

Clark Telescope Dome, Mars Hill, Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Ariz., image

The Clark Telescope Dome on Mars Hill is used for viewing the night sky.

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In 1930, a 24-year-old farmhand-turned-astronomer peered into a telescope at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., and laid eyes on Planet X, the distant icy world ultimately renamed Pluto. The observatory—a nonprofit research facility on the hilly edge of downtown—retains its astronomical wow power, even as it gets set to open a new $53 million telescope on a darker hill 40 miles away.

By law Flagstaff must dim its lights so scientists can look deep into the sky; schoolkids and families flock here to do the same. Head to Lowell at midday to picnic and spot solar flares through a special telescope, join a tour to see the vintage instrument that found Pluto, or bone up on solar eclipses before the one on May 20. Then return on a clear night to count Jupiter’s stripes through a docent’s scope or to marvel at the milky whirl of Andromeda, a galaxy 2.3 million light-years away. (928) 233-3211, lowell.edu.

Photography courtesy of Wikipedia/Pretzelpaw

This article was first published in May 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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