Sunday, November 24, 2019

Lowell Observatory

Two weeks after I made that drive to New Mexico to go to the open house at the Very Large Array, I traveled to Flagstaff with a friend to visit Lowell Observatory.  All the years I've lived in Arizona, I had never visited this famous site.

We took a tour of the site located on Mars Hill just west of downtown Flagstaff Arizona.  Our guide was one of the graduate students who have been working at the site.  

The observatory's founder, Percival Lowell is buried at the observatory in this rather elaborate mausoleum.  He loved working at the observatory so it seems a perfect fit for him to rest there.

One of my favorite things to see was the Clark Telescope.  This is the one that Lowell himself used to observe Mars and Venus.  

In fact, off to one side is the platform and the "dining-room chair" that Lowell used while observing the planets.

You can see a photo of Lowell sitting in the chair in front of the telescope here.  Our guide told us the chair really was one of his dining-room chairs.  

Lowell Observatory is also where the planet Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh.  Our small tour group was given a presentation about how the discovery was made inside the Rotunda Museum.  Hanging from the ceiling in the museum is the Saturn Lamp, a stained glass marvel created by the Los Angeles Light Company.

We also had an opportunity to look at the sun through this solar telescope that was set up by one of the astronomers working at Lowell.  Looking closely I could see the movement of fire and gas around the edges of the sun.  That was a treat.

At the end of the tour we got to see the museum where they had Percival Lowells rather snazzy car on display along with one of the telescopes he carried with him on travels around the world.  

I'll leave you with this wonderful quote by one of my favorite authors, Douglas Adams.  It's perfect Douglas Adams logic (and irony).  One of the buildings at the observatory was surrounded by these quotes from Stephen Hawking, Douglas Adams, Arthur C. Clarke, Rene' Descartes and even Dom Perignon.  They represent a variety of thoughts from authors, scientists and philosophers all relating to discovery.  After all, "Doubt is the key to Wisdom" (Rene Descartes)


PerthDailyPhoto said...

That quote is priceless Sharon, and also so true! Well I'm glad you got to the observatory at last, fascinating places but often overlooked, can you believe I've passed nearby ours on numerous country trips, one of these days I'll follow your example and explore 😊

Thérèse said...

The quote is unique as much as this place is.
Your visit is so well documented and beautifully illustrated, it makes me want to go.

William Kendall said...

What a fascinating place!

Catalyst said...

Now I really want to go there.

Gemel said...

What an adventure! Love the quote, us humans have a great deal we don't know about the workings of the universe, maybe we are not suppose to know the mysteries of it all.