Press Release

A Million and Counting!

By SpaceRef Editor
August 28, 2008
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Flagstaff, Ariz – Today Lowell Observatory commemorates a million visitors by hosting an all- day celebration. Since the Observatory’s main visitor building, the Steele Visitor Center, was dedicated in 1994, 1 million visitors have passed through and gained a better understanding of the engaging realm of astronomical research.

To help celebrate this milestone, Lowell Observatory welcomes all visitors to both its day and evening programs with half-price admission. Everyone arriving between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. will receive a raffle ticket, and a prize drawing will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the Visitor Center (must be present to win). Prizes include a SkyQuest Dobsonian telescope, a ride in Percival Lowell’s 1911 Stevens-Duryea, one-year membership in the Friends of Lowell, shirts, books, and more.

Special daytime programming includes science demonstrations, telescope viewing of the sun, McAllister Space Theatre programs, and tours that include stops at the Pluto Telescope dome. Local dignitaries will also be on hand at 3:30 p.m.

“Lowell Observatory’s demonstrated commitment to public education, especially for school children, drew the attention of the Steele Foundation back in 1992 and has now, through instructive programming and research, reached over 1 million visitors and citizens of Flagstaff,” said Amber Stubbs of the Steele Foundation. “We are proud of this great achievement and are truly pleased with the success of the Steele Visitors Center, through the dedication of its leaders and staff, to educate the community.”

On a sunny day in 1994, television crews, local officials, and interested community members of all ages gathered atop a mesa just west of downtown Flagstaff. The reason for this congregation was the dedication of Lowell Observatory’s new Steele Visitor Center.

Since that opening day, visitors have flocked to the Observatory to peer through telescopes, gaze at Flagstaff’s dark skies, tour the historic facilities, and learn about the cutting-edge research carried out by Lowell’s score of astronomers.

“Since the Steele Visitor Center opened in 1994, our public visitation has increased dramatically. Thanks to support from the Steele Foundation and the National Science Foundation, we have a national model for informal astronomy education here in Flagstaff,” said Jeffrey Hall, Associate Director for Education and Development.

In its 15 years of operation, the Steele Visitor Center has been the host site for countless public and school programs, science conferences, and numerous dignitaries, including former First Lady Hillary Clinton and Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano.

“We want to say thank you to the tourists, supporters, and partners who helped us reach this level of success,” said Kevin Schindler, Outreach Manager. “Because of the ongoing, exceptional leadership demonstrated by our Trustee, Bill Putnam, and our Director, Bob Millis, we were able to complete the Visitor Center and have now reached this milestone with our astronomy outreach and education programs and we look forward to welcoming our next million visitors here on Mars Hill in Flagstaff.”

About Lowell Observatory

Lowell Observatory is a private, non-profit research institution founded in 1894 by Percival Lowell. The Observatory has been the site of many important findings including the discovery of the large recessional velocities (redshift) of galaxies by Vesto Slipher in 1912-1914 (a result that led ultimately to the realization the universe is expanding), and the discovery of Pluto by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930. Today, Lowell’s 20 astronomers use ground-based telescopes around the world, telescopes in space, and NASA planetary spacecraft to conduct research in diverse areas of astronomy and planetary science. The Observatory welcomes more than 75,000 visitors each year to its Mars Hill campus in Flagstaff, Arizona for a variety of tours, telescope viewing, and special programs. Lowell Observatory currently has four research telescopes at its Anderson Mesa dark sky site east of Flagstaff, and is building a 4-meter class research telescope, the Discovery Channel Telescope, in partnership with Discovery Communications.

contact: Kevin Schindler, Outreach Manager, Lowell Observatory, (928) 233-3210 also: Steele Wotkyns, Public Relations Manager, Lowell Observatory (928) 233-3232

SpaceRef staff editor.