FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 30, 2019
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STARGAZING REIMAGINED: LOWELL OBSERVATORY TO OPEN NEW TELESCOPE OBSERVING PLAZA ON OCTOBER 5
Flagstaff, AZ. – On October 5, 2019, Lowell Observatory will open its Giovale Open Deck Observatory, a public observing plaza featuring six advanced telescopes and a suite of sleek educational exhibits. This family-friendly grand opening event is sponsored by Arizona Public Service (APS). The observatory will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. with free admission all day.
Guests can explore the new facility’s exhibits and view through the historic 24-inch Clark Telescope any time throughout the day (weather permitting). At 2:30 p.m., community officials will be on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Tours of the observing plaza will then run until dark, when educators will point the new telescopes to planets, star clusters, nebulae, and more. Other events throughout the day include grounds tours, solar telescope viewing, and scavenger hunts for kids.
Event sponsor APS is Arizona’s largest and longest-serving electric company and is a longtime supporter of Lowell Observatory. Since 1991, the company and its Foundation have provided support for Lowell’s various educational programs and exhibits, including the new observing plaza.
“The APS Foundation is partnering with Lowell to bring the wonder of space to so many – and in ways that most people haven’t had the opportunity to encounter before now,” said Tina Marie Tentori, executive director of the APS Foundation. “When science comes alive through these personal experiences, it’s often the start of the lifelong pursuit of learning that results in an engaged, inquisitive, and educated future workforce for Arizona.”
The Giovale Open Deck Observatory is named after longtime Lowell Observatory supporters John and Ginger Giovale, who supplied the lead gift for the new facility. John has served on the Lowell Observatory Advisory Board for 30 years and Ginger currently serves on the board of the Lowell Observatory Foundation.
The plaza’s opening marks the completion of the first phase of a vigorous expansion of Lowell’s public education program. The next phase, set to be finished in 2023, will see the construction of a three-story “Astronomy Discovery Center” that will replace the much smaller Steele Visitor Center. Observatory Sole Trustee W. Lowell Putnam said, “This new observing plaza is the first step in remaking our visitor experience and sets the standard for how we will achieve this goal.”
The new facility’s six telescopes will allow guests to view celestial objects in a number of ways, from peering through eyepieces to viewing on large screens. The accompanying exhibits include a set of six markers that align to the positions of sunrise and sunset during the equinoxes and solstices. The interactive APS Spectrum Exhibit demonstrates how scientists use spectra in determining compositions of and distances to celestial objects, and a supersized planisphere allows guests to see what constellations are up in the sky at any time of year. Lowell Director Jeff Hall said, “The Giovale Open Deck Observatory, with its tremendous array of telescopes and associated exhibits, will help us realize our vision of being the premier astronomy education destination for visitors from around the world.”
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. The observatory also welcomes 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.
Kevin Schindler, Lowell Observatory