Astronomy Magazine Eclipse Tour 2017 Day 1

Posted by David Eicher
on Friday, August 18, 2017

Lowell Observatory astronomer Brian Skiff describes the historic 24-inch Clark refractor to the crowd, Flagstaff, Arizona, August 14, 2017.

Following an array of flights to Phoenix from all manner of airports, the Astronomy Magazine 2017 Eclipse Tour kicked off, northward bound, headed for numerous national parks and historic astronomical sites en route to viewing the Great American Eclipse in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Monday the 21st. On our first big day of activities, Monday, August 14, we headed north from Scottsdale to Sedona, Arizona, where we saw the beautiful red sandstone rocks that make this town a tourist mecca. We did not, however, encounter a single alien, detect any vortices, or feel any mystical powers being emitted by minerals. The natural science of the area, with the sandstone showing erosion from 200 million years of weathering, was enough to entrance us all. 

We then headed north to Flagstaff, Arizona, where we had a royal reception at Lowell Observatory. Greeted by Lowell’s Director Jeff Hall, Deputy Director for Science Michael West, and astronomer Brian Skiff, we then had a magnificent tour of Lowell’s historic facilities, so celebrated for Mars and Pluto. Brian was kind enough to give our group a thorough tour and explanation of the famous 24-inch Clark refractor, used by Percival Lowell to study Mars, and employed by V. M. Slipher to detect the first redshifts of galaxies and also to discover the interstellar medium, using his famous spectrograph. 

We also enjoyed a fine tour of other telescopes on Mars Hill, saw Lowell’s tomb, and marveled at the dome of the 13-inch “Pluto Camera,” the instrument used by Clyde Tombaugh to discover Pluto in 1930. 

By day’s end, we made it all the way to Lake Powell, near Page, Arizona, close to the Arizona/Utah border. 

What an opening day! 

Brian Skiff explains the long and storied history of the 24-inch Clark refractor at Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona, August 14, 2017.

The “business end” of the famous 24-inch Clark refractor at Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona, August 14, 2017.

The tomb of Percival Lowell, Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona, August 14, 2017.

Dome of the 24-inch Clark refractor, Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona, August 14, 2017.

The dome that houses the famous 13-inch “Pluto Camera,” used to discover Pluto in 1930, Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona, August 14, 2017.

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