Mars Hill Guided Tour
*Masks will be required for the duration of the program, even outdoors. Please note that this experience involves climbing steep hills and stairs at an altitude of 7,250 feet. If you believe you cannot complete this strenuous activity without removing your face mask, we invite you to visit Lowell Observatory when masks are no longer required.
**Barring any operational issues and weather permitting.
The daytime Mars Hill Guided Tour lasts 90 minutes and takes you back to the founding of Lowell Observatory by Percival Lowell in 1894. This Guided Tour is led by an observatory educator and includes stops at the historic 24” Clark Refractor, the Pluto Discovery Telescope, and the new Giovale Open Deck Observatory for solar observing.**
After checking in at the Steele Visitor Center, you’ll see the 124-year-old, 32-foot-long Clark Refractor, which was custom made for the observatory by Alvan Clark & Sons. 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. 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.
The Mars Hill Guided Tour finishes up at the Giovale Open Deck Observatory plaza, which recently opened in October, 2019. Here, you’ll get to search the sun for any sunspots or prominences with a hydrogen-alpha solar telescope. Masks are still required for this portion of the tour, and telescope eyepieces will be sanitized between each guest. In the event of cloudy weather, your educator will lead you on a tour of the Giovale Open Deck Observatory.
At the conclusion of the Mars Hill Tour, 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.