Percival Lowell founded Lowell Observatory in 1894. He chose Flagstaff to build the observatory because its clean air and high altitude, which create exceptional visibility. Lowell spent his time learning about the planet Mars. It was through Lowell’s twenty-two year study of the planet Mars and his theory of the expanding universe that led to the discovery of Pluto, fourteen years after his death. Clyde W. Tombaugh discovered the planet in exactly the position that Dr. Lowell had calculated. The Clark telescope that located Pluto is still at the Observatory, housed in a historic wooden dome.
The Lowell Observatory continues to be active in research and welcomes visitors to come explore sky. There are hands-on exhibits that will interest children and help explain concepts. The Pluto Walk gives visitors an up close view of the sequential order of planets through the use of models. Tours of the observatory are offered throughout the day. These guided tours begin with a slide show describing the history of the observatory and its founder.
Lowell Observatory is open every day from 9:00 to 5:00 during April through October and 12:00 to 5:00 during the remaining months of the year. The cost of admission is $3.50 for adults, $3.00 for seniors and students with I.D., $1.50 for children 4 to 17 and $10.00 for a family rate.
Night Sky programs are available on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 7:00 and 7:45. These evening programs are becoming increasing popular. It is important to call ahead for more information at 520-774-2096 or 520-774-3358.
Lowell Observatory is located at 1400 West Mars Hill, near downtown Flagstaff. If you are coming from Phoenix or Tucson take Interstate 17 north out of town to Flagstaff. Once you are in Flagstaff take Milton Road through town, until you come to a bend in the road. Take Mars Hill Road on the left and head up to the Observatory.