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As Lowell Observatory continues to keep general admission closed in order to help deter the spread of COVID-19, a series of new Guided Tours and Family Adventures offer a physically distant way to discover the universe and experience its wonders.

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Mars Hill Guided Tour

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 10am, 12pm, and 4pm

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.

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.**

Note: This daytime Guided Tour does not include evening stargazing.

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.

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