Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lowell Observatory

The Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona is such an interesting place to visit!
So much to do and see, including multi-media programs, tours, hands on exhibits, telescope viewing, and lectures by prominent astronomers.
One $10 ticket covered all the day and evening offerings.

One of my favorite tours was seeing the Clark Telescope, assembled by founder Percival Lowell.
Have you ever wondered how we came to consider that there might be life on Mars?
Mr. Lowell popularized the idea, which greatly influenced writers like H.G. Wells.
The Clark Telescope was assembled by Mr. Lowell, who dedicated his life to the study of Mars, speculating that there were advanced cultures who had built canals there.
(no, he never did see little green men)

The building that houses the telescope was assembled in 1909.
The top section can still be rotated to accommodate seeing all aspects of the night sky.
The Clark Telescope is in use today and the public is welcome to view the skies on most nights, weather permitting.
Each night has a new focus, depending on what is closest in the sky.

It was so amazing to me to realize how history was made with such primitive devices.
The interior is lined with Ponderosa pine slats, and the upper dome still rotates on old 1954 Ford pickup truck tires.

Percival Lowell, despite his extreme wealth, was a practical man.
He used what he had on hand to assemble The Clark.
A basic kitchen chair set on a platform, and hosted up and down by simple pulley's and ropes, was used for telescope viewing.

Common bicycle chains are part of the telescope assembly.

And an aluminum fry pan, borrowed from his wife's kitchen still serves today as a lens cap.
And yet, some of the most world changing explorations took place here!

In this very room V.M. Slipher discovered that the Universe is expanding.

The Rotunda Museum is a great place to learn the history of the Lowell Observatory, and is full of some very impressive memorabilia.

All astronauts are required to visit here as part of their training.

On *January 16th, 1963 Neil Armstrong signed the guest register.

See his signature 3rd down from the top

(*6 years before he walked on the Moon)

And we fell in love with the Saturn chandelier inside the Rotunda!

Mr. Cactus thinks we need one of these for our family room. (ha ha)

The Lowell Observatory is a great way to spend a day.

With new technology and discoveries taking place rapidly, it's exciting to see what we will learn next.


Lois Evensen said...

What a wonderful place! It was built around the time my parents were born.

Shari said...

The observatory sounds fascinating indeed! Thanks for sharing about it. And I love the Saturn chandelier - I would have one somewhere if I could - it looks kind-of quilty?

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

looks like an interesting place to visit!

quiltmom anna said...

How fun Nedra- Love the Saturn chandelier. The Rotunda museum looks like the Queen Elizabeth Planetarium here in Edmonton. Unfortunately it is not in the same beautiful shape as yours. I loved the practical way Lowell used everyday things- especially the frying pan lens cover!