Lowell Observatory is an astronomical observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. Lowell Observatory was established in 1894, placing it among the oldest observatories in the United States, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965. In 2011, the Observatory was named one of "The World's 100 Most Important Places" by TIME.
The Observatory's original 24-inch (0.61 m) Alvan Clark Telescope is still in use today for public education. Lowell Observatory hosts 80,000 visitors per year at their Steele Visitors Center who take guided daytime tours and view various wonders of the night sky through the Clark Telescope and other telescopes.The observatory operates several telescopes at two locations in Flagstaff. The main facility, located on Mars Hill just west of downtown Flagstaff, houses the original 24-inch (0.61 m) Clark Refracting Telescope, although its role today is as a public education tool and not research.
Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT):
owell Observatory is building a major new reflecting telescope in partnership with Discovery Communications, located near Happy Jack, Arizona. This Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT), located within the Mogollon Rim Ranger District of the Coconino National Forest, is expected to be the fifth-largest telescope in the contiguous United States, and it will enable the astronomers of Lowell Observatory to enter new research areas deeper into outer space.
The DCT and the research carried out there will be the focus of ongoing informative and educational television programs about astronomy, the sciences, and technology to be telecast on the Discovery channels. The primary mirror of the Discovery Channel Telescope will be 4.28 meters (168.5 inches) in diameter. It will be supposely notable for its uncommon meniscus design for such a large mirror. This mirror was ground and polished into its parabolic shape at the Optical Fabrication and Engineering Facility of the College of Optical Sciences of the University Of Arizona (in Tucson, Arizona).
Lowell Observatory's astronomers conduct research on a wide range of solar system and astrophysical topics using ground-based, airborne, and space-based telescopes. Among the many current programs are a search for near-Earth asteroids, a survey of the Kuiper Belt beyond Neptune, a search for extrasolar planets, a decades-long study of the brightness stability of the sun, and a variety of investigations of star formation and other processes in distant galaxies.
In addition, the Observatory staff designs and builds custom instrumentation for use on Lowell's telescopes and elsewhere. For example, Lowell staff built a sophisticated high-speed camera for use on the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). SOFIA is a joint project of the United States and German space agencies and consists of a 2.5-meter telescope on board a Boeing 747 SP.