The Great AZ Road Trip

Lowell Observatory

Courtesy Photo Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce

Courtesy Photo Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce

Flagstaff calls itself home to many things: Arizona Snow Bowl, Northern Arizona University, and until recently, home to the discovery of the ninth planet.

That’s right, the world’ most popular dwarf planet was seen from the very telescope that sits atop a mountain right in Flagstaff. The Lowell Observatory was started in 1894 by Percival Lowell, an American businessman, mathematician and astronomer. His creation of the observatory was brought upon by the purpose of studying the solar system and conducting astronomical research in an effort of public education.

Astronomers have conducted research that is essential to the current basic knowledge of astronomy today. The discovery of Pluto was made in 1930 and at the time, was considered the universe’s ninth planet. While the planet has since been demoted to “dwarf planet” status, the observatory remains the birthplace of the important discovery. The name Pluto is believed to have been given in part because of its shared initials with observatory originator Percival Lowell.

The Observatory opened a visitor center in 1994, on the centennial of its inception. They have received more than a million visitors; nearly 80,000 visit annually. In 2012, the observatory completed a 4.3- meter Discovery Channel Telescope, which brings satellite images to people across the globe.

Lowell Observatory is open daily throughout the summer months and visitors can come to tour the facility, participate in a solar viewing, enjoy the telescopes, stargaze and learn about the history of Lowell’s discoveries