skip to Main Content

As Lowell Observatory continues to keep general admission closed in order to help deter the spread of COVID-19, this new guided tour offers an exclusive, physically distant way to discover the universe and experience its wonders.

Health & Safety Guidelines
Learn about how we are keeping you safe, plus the rules of entry.

Online Exhibits
Our exhibit halls are closed, but you can still enjoy a selection of online exhibits.

Starry Skies Shop
Shop online from our premier science gift shop.

Mars and Pluto Family Adventure

Science Demos
The Clark Refractor Dome
The Pluto Discovery Telescope
Solar Observing

Masks must be worn at all times while indoors.* A mask will be provided for you if you do not have one. 

90 minutes
Departs at 2pm

Adults (13+)

Children (6-12)

Reservations can be made up to 14 days in advance.

During Phase 2, Members receive free access to Guided Tours and Family Adventures; quantities are limited. LEARN MORE

*Masks are optional when you are outdoors, but they are required whenever you are indoors or viewing through telescopes.

**Barring any operational issues and weather permitting.

Future planetary scientists, take note! The daytime Mars and Pluto Family Adventure lasts 90 minutes and highlights the planets that were famously studied at Lowell Observatory. This guided tour is led by an observatory educator and includes spectroscopy and liquid nitrogen science experiments as well as stops at the 32-foot-long Clark Refractor that Percival Lowell used to study Mars, the Pluto Discovery Telescope that Clyde Tombaugh used to discover Pluto, and the new Giovale Open Deck Observatory where you’ll safely observe the Sun, weather permitting.**

Note: This daytime Family Adventure does not include evening stargazing.

After checking in at the Steele Visitor Center, your adventure begins at a telescope that’s the size of a T. rex: the 124-year-old, 32-foot-long Clark Refractor. This 24” diameter telescope was used by Percival Lowell to study Mars and other planets, by Vesto Slipher to find the first evidence that our universe is expanding, and by scientists in the 1960’s to create detailed maps of the Moon in preparation for the Apollo Moon landings. Doors and dome shutters are kept open at the Clark Dome in fair weather to facilitate fresh airflow while guests are inside. 

Next, the tour takes you to 1930, when amateur astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovered the dwarf planet Pluto, right here at Lowell Observatory. You’ll pass by the building that housed Tombaugh’s office and living quarters as you head up the Pluto Walk toward the Pluto Dome, which houses the 13” Lawrence Lowell Astrograph, which was used to image Pluto. Because of the small size of the Pluto Dome, guests will tour the interior in groups of five. Outside, your educator will use liquid nitrogen to explore what conditions are like on Pluto.

The final stop of your Mars and Pluto Family Adventure is the Giovale Open Deck Observatory plaza, which just opened in October 2019. Here, you’ll get to safely search the sun for any sunspots or prominences with a hydrogen-alpha solar telescope. Telescope eyepieces will be sanitized between each guest and masks are required at all times, even during the outside portions of this tour. In the event of cloudy weather, your educator will give a presentation about the sun under an outdoor tent. 

At the conclusion of your Mars and Pluto Family Adventure, your educator will escort you back to the Steele Visitor Center.

To avoid overcrowding, please do not arrive more than 15 minutes in advance of your scheduled start time.

Back To Top
Site Navigation