Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility MEDIA ALERT: PROMINENT SCIENTISTS TO HIGHLIGHT 3RD ANNUAL I HEART PLUTO FESTIVAL - Lowell Observatory


*Nancy Currie-Gregg is unable to make the Night of Discovery appearance. Taking her place will be paleontologist and wilderness guide, Christa Sadler.*

Flagstaff, AZ. – Paleoanthropologist Dr. Donald Johanson, planetary scientist Dr. Alan Stern, and astronaut Dr. Nancy Currie-Gregg headline Lowell Observatory’s 3rd Annual I Heart Pluto Festival, set for February 12-21, 2022 in Flagstaff. The event celebrates the 92nd anniversary of Clyde Tombaugh’s discovery of Pluto on February 18, 1930.

The Night of Discovery keynote presentation will see notable scientists on a panel discussion about the human fascination with exploration and discovery. Lowell Observatory Director Dr. Jeffrey Hall will moderate this discussion, set to take place on February 18 at Flagstaff’s Orpheum Theater.

Night of Discovery Panelists

Dr. Donald Johanson, discoverer of the fossil hominid Lucy
Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of the New Horizons mission to Pluto and beyond
Dr. Nancy Currie-Gregg, astronaut who flew four times in space
Dr. Cathy Olkin, Deputy Principal Investigator of the Lucy mission to study asteroids
Alden Tombaugh, son of Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh

Other highlights of the 10-day festival include a science speaker series, space art show hosted by the International Association of Astronomical Artists, and special Pluto-themed products promoted by businesses throughout Flagstaff, such as the “Lowell Observatory Lager” limited edition beer by Mother Road Brewery.

The Arizona Office of Tourism provided major funding through a Visit Arizona Initiative grant. The event’s lead local sponsor is Civano Coffee House, a local coffee house and nightclub on South San Francisco Street.

Community-Wide Celebrations

In addition to Mother Road Brewery, several companies throughout Flagstaff are joining in during the month of February to celebrate the anniversary of Pluto’s discovery:

  • Historic Brewing Company will serve a custom Pluto cocktail.
  • Fratelli’s Pizza will feature Pluto-themed specials.
  • FlagTag AZ is creating a special “Find Planet X” axe-throwing game.
  • Karma Sushi will serve a Pluto Roll.
  • Northern Arizona DX Association will host a special radio contest.
  • Quality Connections will offer discounts on space-saving office equipment with coupon “PLUTO”.
  • Additional Flagstaff community partners are invited to participate.

All events will be in-person*, and several will also be livestreamed. A full schedule of events and speakers will be available in January.

A VIP experience featuring a bus/walking tour of Pluto-related sites in Flagstaff will also be available. Seating is limited, and reservations are required.

Tickets may be purchased at the event webpage at

*Note: All in-person guests aged 12+ will need to show results from a negative COVID-19 lab test within 72 hours of visiting, or provide proof of full vaccination in lieu of a negative test. In-person events are subject to change or cancellation due to COVID-related restrictions that could arise. Please read more about Lowell Observatory’s COVID-19 protocols at

About Lowell Observatory

Lowell Observatory is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) research institution, founded in 1894 by Percival Lowell atop Mars Hill in Flagstaff, Arizona. The observatory has been the site of many important discoveries, including the first detection of large recessional velocities (redshift) of galaxies by Vesto Slipher in 1912-1914 (a result that led ultimately to the realization that the universe is expanding), and the discovery of Pluto by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930. Today, the observatory’s 14 tenured astronomers use ground-based telescopes around the world, telescopes in space, and NASA planetary spacecraft to conduct research in diverse areas of astronomy and planetary science. Lowell Observatory currently operates multiple research instruments at its Anderson Mesa station, east of Flagstaff, and the 4.3-meter Lowell Discovery Telescope near Happy Jack, Arizona. Prior to the pandemic, the observatory also welcomed more than 100,000 guests per year to its Mars Hill campus in Flagstaff, Arizona, for a variety of educational experiences, including historical tours, science presentations, and telescope viewing.


Media Contact

Kevin Schindler, Lowell Observatory
(928) 607-1387