Tag Archives: lowell observatory


“Suited for Space” Exhibition Opens at Lowell Observatory

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy stated the United States would land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth before the end of the decade. To achieve this ambitious goal, astronauts would need not only a spacecraft to launch them safely into space, but a spacesuit that would protect them as well. Without the proper clothing to keep them alive while traveling, living and working beyond the bonds of Earth, space exploration would not have been possible.

Suited for Space,” a new exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition (SITES) and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum is now open at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff through June 16. The exhibit explores the evolution of spacesuit development from the first quarter of the 20th century until the dawn of the shuttle era.

IMG_0316lowresThe exhibition features large-scale photographs of suits worn by astronauts from Project Mercury through the Skylab program as well as suits used in testing and training. X-ray images provide a unique view of the interiors of the spacesuits. While the fragility of these spacesuits prevents them from traveling, the exhibition will feature a replica Apollo spacesuit on loan from NASA and 10 objects from the National Air and Space Museum’s collection, including a glove, a boot and helmets.

Suited for Space” includes suits that made history—like the one Buzz Aldrin wore on the moon—and those that never left the ground such as the Mark V spacesuit designed for Project Mercury. Visitors can see an exciting visual timeline of the spacesuits’ evolution over the years.

Suited for Space” is accompanied by a richly illustrated book, titled Spacesuits: The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Collection available through powerHouse Books.

The exhibition has its own Facebook page for space trivia, curatorial insight, and general fun. Visit www.facebook.com/suitedforspace and www.facebook.com/lowellobservatory.

For more information, visit www.lowell.edu.

lowell observatory

Lowell Observatory’s 3-D Mars Exhibit Extended to Feb. 24

Lowell Observatory’s Mars exhibit, “A New Perspective on Mars: The Red Planet in 3D,” began in October and was set to end January 13. As of October, more than two million people have viewed this powerful 3-D exhibit at the observatory, located in central Flagstaff on Mars Hill. So due to popular demand, the stunning exhibit has been extended to Sunday, February 24.

Created and constructed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the exhibit features large 3-D topographical images of the surface of Mars. The European spacecraft called the Mars Express has been orbiting the planet since 2004, equipped with a German-made High Resolution Stereo Camera (HSRC). The images the Express has captured over the years have provided essential, invaluable information regarding the geological evolution of the Red Planet. The exhibit and tour guides at Lowell explain some of the recent discoveries the camera has made.

For instance, the HSRC has found erosion patterns that suggest glaciers once moved across the surface, and networks of valleys indicate that water once flowed from rainwater or glacial meltwater. These findings are remarkable, considering the fact that Mars’ current high temperatures prevent water from existing there now. Researchers are analyzing the images to identify how much water flowed over Mars and when, which would provide a much better idea of the history of the planet. Further study also suggests that volcanic activity could still occur there. On DLR’s Mars Express site, photos of these features and many others, including Mars’ moon, Phobos, can be found. There is also a breathtaking animated movie based on 3-D images taken of the Valles Marineris, which flies the viewer among mountain peaks and valleys.

The incredible detail of the pictures makes viewers feel like they are actually touching the surface of Mars. Lowell Observatory has a long history of astronomical research and discovery. Established in 1894, Lowell was the site where galactic redshifts were first observed, Mars’ canals were first sketched, and where Pluto was discovered. It boasts the 6,500 square foot Steele Visitor Center, featuring multimedia shows, presentations and a portable 3-D planetarium. Visitors can look through the original telescopes that were used to make significant breakthroughs in the field of astronomy and learn about the new Discovery Channel Telescope, located nearby.

When visiting, remember that Lowell is situated at 7,200 feet, so bring plenty of water and dress in layers. Because the observatory is only one mile west of Downtown Flagstaff, the two-hour trip from Phoenix provides the perfect opportunity for an educational day trip. While there, make sure to stop by the Starry Skies Shop and check out some of the upcoming events at the Observatory, including Uncle Percy’s Tykes Camp, a day camp meeting once a month where kids can build, learn, play and observe through science.

“A New Perspective on Mars: The Red Planet in 3D”

Mon., Wed., Fri., Sat.: Noon – 9:30 p.m.
Tues., Thurs., Sun.: Noon – 5 p.m.
Where: 1400 W. Mars Hill Rd., Flagstaff
Adults: $12
Seniors, AAA, college students: $10
Kids 5-17: $5
Kids under 5: Free
Members: Free
Admission covers all programs; no reservations necessary
Contact: (928) 774-3358
Groups and private viewing: Mary DeMuth (928) 233-3235
Lowell Observatory’s website | Mars Express site


Flagstaff Adventures - EAZ Fall-Winter 2012

Top 5: Flagstaff Adventures (Fall-Winter 2012)

The Top 5 Flagstaff Adventures — as voted on by Experience AZ readers:

Lowell Observatory

1400 W. Mars Hill Rd.,
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
(928) 774-3358
Sitting atop Mars Hill in Flagstaff, on the Mogollon Rim, Lowell Observatory’s Discovery Channel Telescope is the 5th largest telescope in the continental U.S. — and one of the most technologically advanced. Come for daytime guided tours, solar viewing, multimedia shows and evening gazing.

Meteor Crater

Interstate 40, Exit 233,
Winslow, AZ 86047
(800) 289-5898
The most well-known, most-preserved meteorite crater on Earth, Meteor Crater is the result of an asteroid collision about 50,000 years ago. It’s nearly one mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference and more than 550 feet deep. Come for its outdoor observation trails, indoor viewing, interactive discovery center and more.

Sunset Crater Volcano

Off U.S 89, on Sunset Crater –
Wupatki Loop Rd.,
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
(928) 526-0502
When this volcano erupted 900 years ago, the surrounding landscape was reshaped, where twisted Ponderosa Pines and an array of wildlife now coexist. Hike the trail through the lava flow and cinders, located near Flagstaff.

North Pole Experience

2515 E. Butler Ave.,
Flagstaff, AZ 86004
(888) 469-8819
Families can enjoy a magic trolley ride to the North Pole, build toys with Santa and his elves, attend Elf University, visit Mrs. Claus’ bakery and more. Recently relocated to Flagstaff from Greer, the North Pole Experience has partnered with The Little America Hotel, which is always decked out in more than one million Christmas lights.

Arizona Snowbowl

Off Hwy. 180, on Snowbowl Rd.,
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
(928) 774-0729
When Flagstaff transforms into a winter wonderland, residents and visitors alike flock to Arizona Snowbowl for snowshoe hiking, skiing, snowboarding and more. With 25 rooms in a cabin setting, the Ski Lift Lodge & Cabins are also an ideal place to stay, whether in the winter or summer.

Experience AZ Fall-Winter 2012


Lowell Observatory

Lowell Observatory

If you are in Arizona right now, then you are in the only state in the America — in fact, the only place outside Europe — where a planet has been discovered. That’s right, an astronomer discovered Pluto at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff in 1930. Visitors can take advantage of this surprising distinction by visiting the Lowell Observatory, where both the history of astronomy and cutting-edge research in the field are on display.

Percival Lowell founded his observatory on a mesa to the west of Flagstaff in 1894. Though he occupied himself initially with drawing canals he believed he saw on the surface of Mars — supposedly signs of intelligent life on the planet — he later shifted his attention to a search for planets beyond Neptune.

After Lowell’s death in 1916, an amateur astronomer named Clyde Tombaugh continued Lowell’s search, meticulously comparing photographs of the night sky for movement that would indicate an object closer than the fixed stars in the background. In 1930, the observatory announced his discovery of Pluto.

Visitors to the observatory can take guided tours, which will take them to the original Alvan Clark telescope used by Lowell himself and the Pluto Discovery Telescope. The Clark telescope, remarkably, is still in operation today and is used for educational purposes. Other exhibits include the “blink” comparator Tombaugh used to discover Pluto and a spectrograph used to gather the first evidence that the universe was expanding. Visitors will also see interactive exhibits meant to demonstrate the basic principles of astronomy.

The Rotunda Library, originally built by Lowell to house his book collection, now displays exhibits showing the history of the observatory.

The Discovery Channel has teamed up with the observatory to build the 4.2-inch Discovery Channel Telescope. The device will be used to search for clues to the most fundamental mysteries of the universe.

For more information on the Lowell Observatory, visit www.lowell.edu.