Lowell Observatory is an independent, non-profit research institution. Our mission is to explore the cosmos and to share our discoveries with all.
Our tradition of exploration of the cosmos began in 1894 in our own solar system, as Percival Lowell started his search for signs of intelligent life on Mars and began laborious calculations to predict the location of a then-unknown ninth planet beyond Neptune. That tradition rapidly moved into deep space in 1912, beginning with Vesto M. Slipher’s careful studies of “spiral nebulae”, a series of observations with the 24″ Clark refractor that led to the first evidence of the expanding Universe.
Today, Lowell astronomers conduct research spanning the full range of modern astronomy. We maintain our long heritage of solar system exploration, with leading experts in the areas of comets, asteroids, icy moons, and Kuiper Belt objects. We explore the properties of stars, whether huge, brilliant ones or small, faint ones. We study exoplanets and newly-forming planetary systems around other stars. And we try to understand the nature and evolutionary history of galaxies, the vast assemblages of stars that comprise the larger-scale structure of the Universe. Using the spectacular capabilities of our 4.3-meter Lowell Discovery Telescope, we are entering our second century of discovery.
As we study the mysteries of the cosmos, we maintain a long-standing commitment to sharing our discoveries with everyone – our professional peers, the general public, and the generation of scientists who will succeed us. Percival Lowell has been called the Carl Sagan of his day, a tireless popularizer of astronomy and advocate for science. We continue this commitment today, and we invite you to join us through this website, our social media, and our many astronomy-themed events as we tell you our story.