Flagstaff Lowell Observatory

Living in the Phoenix area, one of my favorite weekend escapes is Flagstaff.
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With the pine trees and cool weather, it doesn’t even feel like Arizona.  And you can’t make a trip to Flagstaff without visiting their famous Lowell Observatory, home of the Discovery Channel Telescope.

We arrived at the observatory mid-afternoon and spent quite a bit of time exploring the 6500 square foot Steele Visitor Center. There are plenty of hands on exhibits to entertain kids of all ages; especially the adult ‘kid’.

By the time we had seen everything in the visitor center; it was time for our tour. The first stop was the Rotunda Museum. Is it just me, or has everyone wanted to live in a round house before? This two story rotunda is open in the center with a balcony around the circumference to house twice as much memorabilia.

Our next stop was the Pluto Discovery Telescope. On the path there is a scale model of the distance between the sun and the planets. Talk about an interesting perspective! It was interesting to learn the story of how Pluto was discovered – and it happened here in our back yard.

There is another tour to view the Clark Telescope and several other buildings to explore along with the Universe Hike. Throughout the year there are speakers and special events. The Festival of Science Open House on September 23 sounds interesting.

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June through August is the best time of the year to visit because of the daily 9am to 10 pm hours. September, October and March through May are good months also, especially Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. November through February has reduced hours and the snow can interrupt tours and activities.

It’s easy to see why Time Magazine included the Lowell Observatory in their list of the world’s 100 most important places in the ‘Places of Inquiry” section. I leaned a cool money saving tip. If you buy the $60 basic membership, two adults and their minor children get into Lowell Observatory and 300 science centers worldwide – including Arizona Science Center. One trip to those two museums using our membership put us money ahead. And then we used it several times on vacation – best entertainment value in a long time!