Visiting Scientists Program

Lowell Observatory’s Visiting Scientists Program aims to create a vibrant scientific atmosphere on Mars Hill, to enhance the observatory’s reputation and connection to the wider astronomical community, and to stimulate new scientific collaborations as well as strengthen existing ones. The Visiting Scientists Program complements the existing colloquium series by providing support for longer visits.

Eligibility & Expectations

The observatory welcomes visits by PhD scientists whose expertise and recognized research excellence in astronomy, astrophysics, planetary science or related fields will enrich the scientific environment here. Visiting Scientists must have a sponsor at Lowell, though an ongoing scientific collaboration is not a requirement. Lowell astronomers are encouraged to contact potential visitors and invite them to apply. Graduate students or scientists without an affiliation are not eligible to participate in the Visiting Scientists Program. To accommodate as many scientific visitors as possible, each visiting scientist is only eligible to apply to the program twice within a five year period.

Visiting Scientists are expected to participate actively in the day-to-day scientific life at Lowell Observatory and to spend most of their time in residence here. Each visiting astronomer is requested to give a colloquium or a lunch talk near the beginning of their stay. Those who visit for longer periods (e.g., more than one month) may be asked to give a series of lectures or to contribute in other ways to enriching the scientific life of the observatory. All Visiting Scientists are encouraged to include a Lowell affiliation or acknowledgement in any papers that result from their visit.

Duration of Visits

Visit lengths can vary from a minimum of two weeks to a maximum of three months. Longer visits will be considered only in exceptional cases. Currently, the observatory has resources to host the equivalent of one Visiting Scientist per month on average. Astronomers interested in coming to Lowell for shorter visits of just a few days should contact the observatory’s colloquium organizer.

What is Provided

The observatory offers simple but adequate lodging on Mars Hill at no charge. A fixed allowance of $30 per day is also provided to help cover the cost of meals and other living expenses. Additionally, the observatory will contribute up to $1000 for domestic travel and up to $2000 for international travel. Visiting Scientists must arrange their own economical travel and submit receipts for reimbursement. Salary or other benefits are not provided.

Visiting Scientists will be given office space and full access to the observatory’s library, internet service, and other resources on Mars Hill. The sponsor will be responsible for introducing the Visiting Scientist to the observatory, ensuring that all necessary arrangements are made, and providing practical information about Flagstaff if needed.

No financial support is provided for accompanying persons, but the observatory may provide accommodations for additional guests at no cost, subject to availability.

Application Procedure & Selection

Applications for Lowell’s Visiting Scientist Program are accepted at any time; however, they should be submitted several months prior to the anticipated start date of the visit. Applicants are requested to complete the application form available below. In addition, the Lowell sponsor should provide a short letter in support of the application. Applications should be emailed to Michael West, Lowell’s Deputy Director for Science, at

A Visiting Scientists Committee (VSC), whose members are appointed by the Deputy Director for Science, reviews applications as needed and makes recommendations to the DDS. Applications are assessed based on the applicant’s research accomplishments to date and his or her likelihood of contributing to the scientific enrichment of the observatory. Because of limited resources and space, it may not be possible to approve every application.

How To Apply

Review the eligibility, expectations, and application procedure outlined above before submitting an application. Then, email a completed application form to In addition, the Lowell sponsor should provide a short letter in support of the application.