I’m here with MWT Associates, Inc., to see the eclipse and tour the major astronomical sites of Arizona and New Mexico. And I'm joined by 32 other eclipse enthusiasts from around the world who began the adventure Thursday afternoon in Phoenix. We escaped the heat quickly and rode north to more comfortable weather in Flagstaff. After a restful night, Friday began with talks about desert and eclipse photography by renowned photographer Dennis Mammana and an eclipse primer by yours truly.
We spent the evening at historic Lowell Observatory, located on Mars Hill overlooking the city. The observatory is famous as the place where Percival Lowell recorded “canals” on Mars, but deserves more acclaim as the spot where Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto and Vesto Slipher observed the redshifts in galaxy spectra that helped Edwin Hubble establish that the universe is expanding. But Lowell astronomers continue to perform cutting-edge research. We listened to Gerard T. van Belle describe how he uses optical interferometry to measure the fundamental properties of stars and their planetary systems. After the talk, we got a chance to view through the 24-inch Alvan Clark refractor that Lowell used to delineate the martian canals. Instead of observing Mars, however, we were treated to exquisite views of Saturn and its rings.
Saturday's agenda: a visit to Meteor Crater and then on to Canyon de Chelly, from where we’ll watch Sunday’s eclipse.