Friday, October 21, 2016

Lowell Observatory!

We are at Lowell Observatory, in Flagstaff, Arizona.  This is a famous, historic observatory, built by Percival Lowell in 1894, to study Mars.  He purchased this 24" refracting telescope, which is about thirty feet long, and used the telescope to search the surface of Mars.  He thought he saw "canals" on the surface and he made many drawings, thinking that the canals were evidence of life on Mars.  But the great discovery was by Clyde Tombaugh who worked here as a young researcher, using a different telescope than this one,  and he discovered the planet Pluto in 1930.  We got to observe through this 24" telescope, and saw some globular clusters, which were stunning in this instrument, and the planet Uranus.  What a spectacular night!  The last photo shows people lined up to look through the telescope.  Notice the automobile wheels and tires going around the edge of the dome?  And notice that the "dome" is not a round dome, as you might expect?  There were two brilliant carpenters who were hired to build this observatory, and the automobile tires and the different style of dome, which have both lasted all these years, are the result of their ingenuity.

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