A move to build a new observatory in Flagstaff has received a significant boost with the announcement of a $14.5 million grant to be spent on its construction.
What is being called the Astronomy Discovery Center will be built on the Lowell Observatory’s long-time Mars Hill campus.
Altogether, the project is expected to cost just over $29 million to complete and will include a large auditorium, as well as a rooftop amphitheater.
Established in 1894, the Lowell Observatory is located just west of downtown Flagstaff and houses the Clark Refracting Telescope, which was built and installed more than 120 years ago.
The observatory itself was put on the official list of the National Register of Historic Places and was named in 2011 by Time magazine as one of the “World’s 100 Most Important Places.”
The $14.5 million for the new observatory facility came from the Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation, a Phoenix-based group that supports a variety of educational and charity efforts.
The new circular-shaped facility will be three-stories tall and is part of a phased project seeing the opening this month of the on-site Giovale Open Deck Observatory which, according to the Arizona Daily Sun, “looks like a futuristic garage.”
Author Kevin Schindler in his book the Lowell Observatory has noted that since its founding, the observatory has served as home to dozens of scientists, “happy to be working where the expectation to achieve was matched by a freedom to pursue research of their choice.”
By Garry Boulard
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