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A Signal from Mars

A Signal from Mars is a blog that explores the collections that are housed in the Putnam Collection Center (PCC) at Lowell Observatory. Blog contributors are Collections Assistant Stacey Christen, Archivist/Librarian Lauren Amundson, and Historian Kevin Schindler.

The Slipher Brothers

This exhibit highlights the lives and careers of brothers and Lowell Observatory astronomers Vesto Melvin (V.M.) and Earl Carl (E.C.) Slipher. Both brothers were born in Mulberry, Indiana, and attended Indiana University. V.M. began working at Lowell in 1901 and E.C. followed in 1906. Each spent his entire professional career in Flagstaff and contributed to the observatory and local and state communities. In 1989, Trustee Bill Putnam rededicated Lowell’s Administration Building as the Slipher Building in their honor.

Historic Buildings and Telescopes

Percival Lowell founded Lowell Observatory in 1894 for the primary purpose of studying Mars. In 1895, he commissioned Alvan Clark & Sons to build a 24-inch refracting telescope. Although the Clark Telescope was Lowell’s primary piece of equipment, the observatory continued to build telescopes and instrumentation that helped solidify its place as a pioneer in the field of astronomy. Astronomers have used the various equipment on Lowell Observatory’s Mars Hill campus to discover Pluto; identify the redshifts of galaxies; map the Moon for the Apollo missions; observe comets and asteroids; study solar variation; and take thousands of photographs of stars, planets, and nebulae. The original landscape of Lowell Observatory’s campus has evolved over the past 125 years and continues to do so, reflecting both its history and future as a center of research and education.

The Lampland Diaries

The Lampland Diaries focuses on the life and career of Dr. Carl O. Lampland, who was an astronomer at Lowell Observatory from 1902 to 1951. He designed cameras for telescopes, measured temperatures of the planets, and created more than 10,000 images of planets, comets, variable stars, nebulae, and star clusters. Lampland kept a daily diary from 1904 to 1949. The diaries are now housed in the Lowell Observatory Archives. An online exhibit with digital versions of each diary and other items from his collection.

Lowell’s Lunar Legacy

From 1961 through 1969, scientists and artists worked together at Lowell Observatory to create detailed maps of the lunar surface. At the same time, astronauts traveled to northern Arizona to learn geology techniques and methods. One of their destinations was Lowell Observatory, where they studied how lunar features were depicted on the maps. Several of these future Moon explorers then viewed the Moon directly through the observatory’s historic 24-inch Clark Telescope. An exhibit highlighting these important contributions was created in coordination with Flagstaff’s Lunar Legacy Celebration.

Women in Astronomy

The Lowell Observatory Archives houses the papers of nearly three dozen former employees and other individuals who had professional relationships with the observatory. For Women’s History Month, we focused on three women who are represented in our collections: Dr. Elizabeth Roemer, Wrexie Louise Leonard, and Elizabeth Langdon Williams. Correspondence, research notes, photographs, scrapbooks, drawings, and newspaper articles illustrate each woman’s career in the field of astronomy, and they also offer some glimpses into their personal lives.

Peruse our extensive online library and catalog of historical photos, scientific plates, archives, and more.

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