Lowell Observatory – Flagstaff, Arizona

Perched atop the San Francisco mountain peak in Flagstaff, Arizona is the ONLY privately held observatory in the world.

Lowell Observatory was created by Percy Lowell in 1855.

Percy Lowell was born and raised in Massachusetts to a wealthy family. He held a Master’s Degree in mathematics at Harvard University and taught there.

Moving to Flagstaff, Arizona in 1855 Mr. Lowell had a desire to build a telescope to see the stars.

Long before radio, television, the Internet, computers, and video games Mr. Lowell created something to answer the many questions he had about our planetary system and our galaxy.


This telescope, hand crafted by Mr. Lowell, is in use today. Many other astronomers have come to call Flagstaff home and spent their lives searching into space. The planet Pluto was discovered from this mountain top using another of the many telescopes built and assembled in Flagstaff.


Bring your family to this historic place where the search of the heavens continues even today. The cost is $7.00 USD per adult (I don’t know what the charge is for children).

There are guided tours provided by a knowledgeable staff who tell you the story of Percival Lowell and his contributions to science, astronomy, and our space program.

Come learn how two brothers, who owned a bicycle shop, were commissioned by Mr. Lowell to create the dome over the telescope.


Come to hear about the various incarnations of the moving dome ceiling from the steel wheels originally used to track the heavens, later replaced by a dam of sea water, to the final idea of using automobile tires from 1950 which are still used today.


Come learn how a pie tin was filched from an astronomer’s wife to be put in place as a lens cover over a later addition to Mr. Lowell’s telescope. That pie tin is still used today as a lens cover.


Each tour is 60 minutes long and the wealth of information and historical significance is packed into each section of the tour.

The next tour is about the telescope used to photograph the stars in search of “Planet X” by an 18 year old budding astronomer who did finally find Pluto.


Walk the paths to each of the telescopes to learn about their significance to finding what lies outside the earth’s orbit up in the heavens.





Plan to stay after dark to have your chance to look through the telescope to see Venus, Saturn, Mars, Uranus, or the Moon. The cloud cover was too thick today so we were not able to stay and actually look through Mr. Lowell’s telescope.

All this for $7 per person. It is so worth the minimal charge.

Joe and I spent the afternoon with Carissa and Jaime exploring this large complex.




I even got an interesting photo that I really like.


This was a relaxing day for Joe and I. Took our minds off the troubles of our trucks and this crazy event filled trip.



About Message In A Fold

I am an over the road truck driver in Drive-Away Transport part of the year, and the sole bookkeeper of this operation the other part of the year. I do a lot of whining until I can get in my craft room and play with paper and glue. View all posts by Message In A Fold

12 responses to “Lowell Observatory – Flagstaff, Arizona

  • pati

    So cool, sooo very cool. You all had a relaxing day together, you both needed it. Time with family, priceless, enjoy. Love u sis

    • Message In A Fold

      This is a fantastic place. So much history and achievement in a really beautiful setting. Pine trees galore with their wonderfully relaxing aroma.

      Yes, it was a very good day for us. Plus the bonus of getting to spend it with Carissa and Jaime.

      Love you Sis

  • Jann Gray

    I loved reading this post…it spoke to the “geek” in me that loves all that science stuff…and the “family” in me that is never happier than when surrounded by my family! Glad you and Joe and some “don’t think about those crazy trucks” time with your family!

    Hugs…and hang in there! Love you!

    • Message In A Fold

      Jann! You would LOVE this place. It is amazing!

      It is a bit higher in altitude than what we are accustomed to and the guides know this so the walking part of the tours are done at a leisurely pace. It is also on hilly ground with some steep inclines. Tennis shoes, or good walking shoes, are recommended.

      The guides pack their recital of historical events with funny anecdotes to bring life to the tour. It is definitely NOT boring.

      When Pluto was located, many years after Percival Lowell’s death they held off telling the world of its find until Mr. Lowell’s birth date anniversary.

      This is an exciting place to be. Neil Armstrong was here and creating his own maps of the moon as he surveyed it. This was instrumental in his actually making the moon landing because all communications were lost just before they landed and Mr. Armstrong relied on his maps to safely land the Rover.

      I could go on an on but think I will stop here.

      Love you – Leslie

  • gardenpinks

    What a truly remarkable place and soooo interesting. Don’t you just love those buildings?? What a great time you and Joe had with you daughter and SIL and that photo of Carissa is priceless – clever you 🙂

    Leslie I left comments on all your other posts on this blog but they seem to have disappeared 😦 Botheration ! I spent what seemed like hours last night catching up with all your doings and my comments have been wiped! Sod it.

    Love and hugs
    Lynn xx

    • Message In A Fold

      I’ve answered each one that I found. Crapazoid, what a bummer for you. They’ll pop up probably sooner or later.

      The Lowell Observatory is a fantastic place to visit. The accomplishments made in 1855 are mind boggling. The borrowing from knowledge long before to haul tons of equipment up a mountain, have glass ground to a specific depth and height.

      People just think they know how to build stuff. How many things around the world in this computerized age will still be working and in tip top shape by the year 2169?! 157 years from now?!

      Amazing!!! You, living in England have buildings standing far longer and that is totally awesome, in my humble opinion.

      I tell you. Computers have made work easier but it has also made people lazy.

      Okay, I better get off my soap box.

      Love you – Leslie

  • Maureen Mathis

    What a great post! Then you HAD to go and say THE T WORD at the end! 😦

    • Message In A Fold

      I had to go look at the post to see what you were talking about 😀 hahaha

      Seriously, this would be a great place for you and your family to visit. You and your girls can do some shopping in the old part of town. Your guys will find things to do as well.

      Maybe your family can plan a hunting trip up here in Flagstaff and you can do some shopping while the rest of them play in the woods 😀

      Love you – Leslie

  • pati

    Sounds like a place that a person could find something interesting to do or see. Glsd u all enjoyed yourselves. Love you sis

    • Message In A Fold

      The things a person learns through guided tours is amazing. So much better than taking a trip through a place that gives little information but lots of stuff to look at.

      You like museums, if I remember. This is a massive living and active museum. With the bonus of looking at the stars 🙂

      Love you Sis

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