The Lowell Amateur Research Initiative

Welcome to the Lowell Amateur Research Initiative (LARI) home page. The LARI program hopes to engage the ever-growing and technically sophisticated amateur astronomy community in some exciting research projects with Lowell astronomers.

A passionate researcher, Percival Lowell always sought to communicate new ideas and the joy of astronomy research to the public. In that same spirit, LARI brings together professional and amateur astronomers in a way that affords interested amateurs an opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research and potentially make significant contributions to science. Amateurs can help Lowell astronomers in their work and help create dedicated research teams. LARI will expand Lowell Observatory’s education and public outreach missions, and promote greater awareness of astronomy and related sciences.

Currently, Lowell astronomers are conducting several projects that would benefit from the participation of amateur astronomers. These projects span a broad range of technical skills and knowledge from taking very deep images of galaxies to monitoring small stars for transient events to data mining. After getting a sense of your skills and interests, we will do our best to match you with the appropriate researcher and project.

Get started by perusing our amateur research entries. When you find the one(s) that interest you, sign up using our online form, tell us about yourself and what you would like to do. Soon, we hope to see you actively participating in research with a Lowell Astronomer.

Latest Entry

Matt Francis

Matt Francis

Pro Am Collaboration at Lowell Observatory: An Insider’s View by Matt Francis I moved to Prescott, AZ in 2011 in search of darker skies. I luckily found a property that came with an existing Observatory…

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Current Projects

Spectrographic Time Series

I want long term emission spectra from selected stars. We will observe objects that exhibit time-varying spectra where the amateur collaborator may spend weeks or even months at a time on a single target. The…

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Historic Scientific Instrument Identification

I would like help identifying Lowell Observatory's historic scientific instruments. Lowell Observatory has more than 500 scientific instruments that date back to the institution's early days, and we have been working with a photographer to…

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Data Mining for Photometry of Selected Stars

I would like help in compiling good on-line photometric measurements of selected stars. Ultra-high-resolution observations of hundreds of stars with optical interferometers have determined their 1 to 3 milliarcsecond sizes to a precision of 10…

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Young Stellar Light Curves

I would like to monitor star forming regions in our galaxy searching for outburst events. Very young stars (i.e., age < 10 Million years) can demonstrate remarkable variability, particularly at optical wavelengths, where young stars…

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Improve Orbits of Distant Small Bodies

I would like to improve the orbits of Centaurs and Kuiper Belt Objects. Centaurs and KBOs often have relatively short orbital arcs. As a result, their orbital elements are inaccurate, resulting in inaccurate sky-plane position.…

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Deep Sky Images of Dwarf Galaxies

Deep sky images of dwarf galaxies, I would like to obtain ultra-deep images of a set of dwarf galaxies. An amateur with a reasonably large telescope and a quality CCD camera could do ultra-deep imaging…

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Past Collaborations


An amateur astronomer, Joseph Marcus, has done a careful analysis of Sunlight scattering from Sun-grazing comets. Dave Schliecher, a Lowell astronomer, used Joe's analysis to build a full phase angle dust scattering model for Comet Halley and…

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Leonard Martin, a Lowell Astronomer, and Jeff Beish, an amateur with a deep and abiding interest in Mars, had a long and successful collaboration. Maybe the best way to understand how profitable was their collaboration…

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The Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search (LONEOS), directed by Dr. Ted Bowell, was a NASA-funded project to discover near-Earth objects. The project ran for 15 years between 1993 and 2008. During that time, LONEOS discovered…

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Outside Collaborations

Research Collaborations Outside of Lowell

The American Associate of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) is an international non-profit organization of variable star observers whose mission is to observe and analyze variable stars, to collect and archive observations for worldwide access, to forge…

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