Frequently Asked Visiting Questions
Have a question?
If you have a question about visiting Mars Hill, check out the list below to see if it’s been answered. If not, feel free to reach out!
We are open from 10:00am to 10:00pm daily, with the exception of an early closing time of 5pm on Tuesdays. We offer general admission tickets that can be purchased upon your arrival to the observatory, as well as a selection of guided tours and Premium Access experiences. See our new guest protocols for COVID-19.
General Admission grants access to the indoor and outdoor exhibits on campus, as well as all of our daytime tours and evening stargazing. Once checked in, you will be free to explore our historic campus, look through our state-of-the-art telescopes, and learn about the stories of the stars and our place in the universe. Get your tickets now at lowell.edu/visit/experiences/!
Yes! General admission is good for the whole day, even if you leave the observatory and come back at a later time. Just be sure to hold on to either your admission sticker or proof of your ticket purchase, such as a receipt or your order confirmation email.
In addition to attending daytime tours and evening stargazing through our telescopes (weather permitting), you will be able to check out our outdoor exhibits and browse our selection of unique gifts in our Starry Skies Shop.
Things to see include the Pluto Discovery Telescope, the Zeiss Blink Comparator, the 125-year-old Clark Refractor, the Rotunda Museum, the Putnam Collection Center, and more!
Learn more on our Things to Do page.
That depends on the group! Some can stay from open to close to experience everything the observatory has to offer, others will stop by for an hour or so to take a tour or see the grounds. According to our Google profile, the average stay time is about 2 hours.
We typically open the telescopes around sunset, which varies depending on the time of year. It can be as early as 4:30pm in the winter, or as late as 8pm in the summer.
If our telescopes aren’t open due to inclement weather or operational issues, guests are still welcome to tour the telescope facilities and learn their history through our educators. We also offer educational talks and a variety of walk-through exhibits, like the Universe Walk and the Putnam Collection Center.
Clouds are the most common reason for telescopes not to be operating. If the cloud coverage isn’t full, our educators will try their best to spy visible objects through gaps in the clouds.
The Pluto Discovery Telescope is an astrograph, a special kind of telescope that has no eyepiece, but instead a mechanism for taking pictures. The telescope is no longer in operation, but guests can visit the facility to view the telescope and learn about the discovery of Pluto.
Nope! In terms of astronomy, an observatory is a facility that houses equipment used to study the cosmos, like telescopes. A planetarium, on the other hand, is a theatre in which star images are projected onto a screen. Lowell Observatory is an independent, non-profit research institution. Some parts of our campus are closed to the public, but we have several telescopes and exhibits that visitors can check out!
Currently, we have snacks and pay-and-take style meals available for purchase in our Starry Skies Shop. Guests are welcome to bring their own food and drink with them on campus as well. We will have an on-campus cafe in our brand new Astronomy Discovery Center, set to open in 2024!
We have a main visitor parking lot, as well as an overflow lot. It can accommodate RVs, but parking is first-come, first-served and may not be able to accommodate larger vehicles on very busy nights.
We are located in Flagstaff, Arizona, just one mile west of the historic downtown area. The observatory sits atop Mars Hill, a mesa that rises several hundred feet above the historic town.
Flash photography is permitted during the day, but we ask that guests avoid the use of any type of white light (including camera flash, flashlights, and phone screens) at night to avoid causing glares in the telescopes and impairing other visitors’ night vision.
Yes! Since we currently have few dining options on campus, you are more than welcome to bring your own food and beverages with you on campus. We have tables available inside the Steele Visitor Center and picnic tables located outside in the Pickard Grove.