Live in Flagstaff and want to check out the night stars? You’re in luck.
Lowell Observatory will hold a free grand opening for its new open deck observatory on Saturday, Oct. 5.
The new Giovale Open Deck Observatory, a movable-roof facility featuring six telescopes open to researchers and the general public, has one of the “finest collections of telescopes for public observing,” according to Chamber Business News.
ABC 15 reports that one of the observatory’s six telescopes is designed for viewing galaxies and star clusters, another will allow star-gazers to study the details of the closest moon and planets in our solar system, and the remaining four telescopes see things in between.
Lowell Observatory, which was founded in 1894, welcomed about 120,000 visitors last year, according to the observatory’s website, and the expansion will increase the observatory’s capacity to about 250,000 visitors each year.
The expansion won’t only boost Lowell’s coffers, but should also provide a boost to local businesses. Tourists who visit the observatory and other local attractions contribute significantly to the local business community, said Arizona Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Julie Pastrick.
The observatory was funded from by a $14.5 million grant from the Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation.
The open-deck observatory marks only the first phase of an ambitious development plan for “Mars Hill,” the 750-acre observatory and research institute overlooking downtown Flagstaff.
The observatory will be followed by the $29 million Astronomy Discovery Center, which is set to open in 2023. Among the projects housed in the center will be the Dark Sky Planetarium, a rooftop amphitheater that will use Flagstaff’s infamously dark skies as a natural planetarium dome.