Early this month my wife and I decided to check out the Grand
Canyon as part of a sight seeing trip to Arizona. Eschewing the
100F+ late summer days of Phoenix we stayed in Flagstaff and
visited sites from there.

On the first night we decided to check out Lowell Observatory.
In the latter half of the week the location is open for night
viewing. Night is not necessarily best part of the visit for a
regular skygazer(a little about that later). However if you want
to expose yourself to a little astronomy visit the place is
worth a visit.

The evening program consists of a short lecture by a local high
school student who did a pretty good job giving a novice's
overview of the sky and astronomy. A nice touch was that he
started off the talk educating the visitors about light
pollution and Flagstaff's efforts to engage in good lighting
practices. Sadly the Comfort Inn I where we stayed hasn't quite
gotten the message. However, the Milky Way view from Mars hill
is quite impressive.

There's also an exhibit hall with various historical exhibits,
short videos and other exhibits about the site.

Night activity is centered around a 16 inch Cassegrain and the
24 inch Alvan Clark refractor. I suggest the night activity
was not the best part of the visit and that's because of the
crowd. That there was a crowd was a good thing because of the
level of interest in things astronomical. OTOH you waited on
line for twenty to thirty minutes for a quick look at M15.

I would opine that a better choice would be a day visit with its
guided tours and if you have your Dob take it up there that same
night; with permission of course. Fortunately there were a group
of local amateurs but even there they kept their targets novice
friendly. Another advantage of a day visit is you can take
sans flash with is not allowed at night.

It was nice to see the large number of people, many of them
non-astronomy oriented tourists, turning out for the whole night
The biggest line was for the 24 inch of course but there were
lines for the
amateur scopes, too. When we left at about 10PM there
were still folks chatting with the amateurs and sky gazing.


Rick Evans
Lon -71° 04' 35.3"
Lat +42° 11' 06.7"