Gaze in wonder at the marvelous night sky from none other than Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff! Founded back in 1894, it holds a special place as one of the oldest observatories in the southwest. But that’s not all – this very spot is where they first spotted the dwarf planet, Pluto!
Today, lucky visitors can even take a peek through the same telescope that led to Pluto’s grand discovery. Imagine the history and magic that lies within that view!
We visited on a Saturday evening and arrived around 7pm. The famous Clark telescope was sadly not operating due to slight cloud cover, but it was fascinating to see and the employees were very eager to answer any question.
The Pluto Walk was next, where you learn about the planets as you walk on a side path. Even better, the markers are distanced as you might actually find them in space (on a smaller scale of course). It was actually really mind blowing to realize how close the first couple planets are – and how far apart the larger planets are! The walked continued with info about black holes, star clusters, and had busts of famous scientists.
We stumbled across a fun obstacle course afterwards, and there was a tree swing, which helped get the wiggles out before waiting in line for the telescope viewings at the Giovale Open Deck. There were four telescopes available and we got to see the moon twice, and two different stars! Again hats off to the employees as they were great with the kids and happy answer even the smallest question.
Our last stop was at the Rotunda Museum, which has lots of astronomy artifacts and other information. This mostly appealed to the adults but definitely stop in because there’s a cool interactive globe that the kids loved.
The cost of admission to Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff is $29 for adults and just $17 for kids ages 5-17 (under 5 are free). You can snag discount tickets through partner hotels’ front desks or keep an eye on Groupon for those sweet deals.
And wait, there’s more! With an annual family membership, you not only get to explore Lowell Observatory but also gain admission to other fantastic science centers like the Arizona Science Center, and even some awesome museums linked to the Association of Science and Technology Centers Passport Program. We actually put our admission fee toward a membership and now have a year to return to Lowell Observatory and others in the passport program!
The observatory is located at 1400 West Mars Hill Rd, Flagstaff AZ, 86001 and open
Monday, Wednesday & Thursday: Noon – 10pm
Tuesday: Noon – 6pm
Friday, Saturday, & Sunday: Noon – 11pm
Learn more about the observatory on their website!