Help us “Restore The Clark”!

The Clark Telescope (Tom Alexander/LOA)

The Clark Telescope (Tom Alexander/LOA)

After 117 years of service, the massive Clark Telescope needs an overhaul so it can continue to be the centerpiece of our public program for the next century. However, such an effort isn’t easy or cheap so we need your help!

On March 13th — Percival Lowell’s birthday — we will launch an official crowdsourcing campaign on indiegogo.com to raise the $256,718.50 needed for the Clark restoration. Donors will receive Clark-related merchandise/experiences commensurate to their gift to the campaign.

Right now, we need your images, anecdotes, and stories about the Clark so we can create a video to accompany the campaign’s launch, and for regular multimedia updates on Indiegogo and Lowell.edu during the campaign. Send any Clark-related content you are willing for us to use to restoretheclark@gmail.com.

Help us restore the behemoth used by Percival to study Mars, by V.M. Slipher to detect the first evidence of the expanding nature of the Universe, and peered through by more than a million visitors. If you’re one of those visitors, you know about the Clark’s legendary optics and clarity, especially when it spies on the giants of our Solar System, Jupiter and Saturn. Help our Director of Technical Services and telescope guru extraordinaire Ralph Nye set the Clark up for another century of good seeing for visitors to Mars Hill!

For more information about the campaign, contact Samantha Christensen, (928) 233-3263. For more information about giving to Lowell, contact Mica Doucette, (928) 233-3278.

(Note: sending any media content [images, text, video, etc...] to restoretheclark@gmail.com implies consent for Lowell to use said content in conjunction with the Clark restoration campaign.)

More information about “Restore The Clark” and our upcoming exhibits, “Pluto and The Planets” and “Suited for Space,” will be posted on our blog very soon!

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Lowell amateur collaborator’s work for Dr. Deidre Hunter featured by NASA

Image Credit & Copyright: Stephen Leshin, Collaboration: Dr. Deidre Hunter and LARI

Lowell Amateur Research Initiative (LARI) collaborator Stephen Leshin recently submitted an image of Barnard’s Galaxy, NGC 6822, to NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD). The beautiful image was captured in collaboration with Lowell astronomer and Deputy Director for Science Dr. Deidre Hunter as part of the LITTLE THINGS dwarf galaxy survey. APOD is featuring the image today (Fri., Feb. 8th) with a plug for LARI and LITTLE THINGS. Thanks so much to Steve and all our LARI collaborators for the amazing work they do for us!

For today’s NASA APOD featuring this image, click here.

For more about LARI, click here.

For more about LITTLE THINGS, click here.

Also, today is our first Second Friday Science Night at Lowell, with fun experiments at 6 PM and 8 PM, and a 7 PM talk by astronomer Wes Lockwood about how Flagstaff got to be the World’s First International Dark Sky City and why it matters to everyone. For more about special events, click here.

And for more about our regular, monthly tours of Lowell’s Discovery Channel Telescope, contact Leslie Wells at (928) 233-3278.

Happy Friday!

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APS Foundation donates nearly $60,000 to Navajo-Hopi Program

 

Lowell’s Dr. Deidre Hunter and Trustee Bill Putnam (left) receive the ceremonial check from Mr. Mark Schiavoni, Arizona Public Service Executive Vice-President of Operations and APS Foundation Board Member; Mr. Bruce Nordstrom , Pinnacle West Board of Directors; and Mr. Richard Nicosia, Arizona Public Service Energy Delivery Manager, Flagstaff.

Lowell Observatory is proud to announce a generous gift of nearly $60,000 from the APS Foundation to support the Observatory’s Navajo-Hopi Astronomy Outreach Program. The $59,246 donation will go directly towards supporting this groundbreaking, 17-year-old STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) program.

“APS has been a long-time supporter of Lowell’s education programs, and we are very grateful for this generous gift in support of our outreach to Navajo and Hopi middle schoolers,” said Lowell Director Dr. Jeffrey Hall.

“We very much appreciate not only the APS Foundation’s financial support but their enthusiasm for our program,” added Dr. Deidre Hunter, Deputy Director for Science, Program manager and Program co-founder.

Mr. Mark Schiavoni, Arizona Public Service Executive Vice-President of Operations and APS Foundation Board Member, echoed the sentiments. “We are proud to continue our longstanding partnership with Lowell Observatory, which plays a critical role in educating our youth about astronomy and science. This grant will enable the Navajo-Hopi Outreach Program to further support STEM education that invests in today’s youth, developing future leaders for Arizona,” he said.

The goals of the Navajo-Hopi Astronomy Outreach Program are twofold: 1) to use astronomy to help teachers get Navajo and Hopi children excited about astronomy and science in general, encouraging a life-long understanding of science for all and advanced study for some, and 2) to help teachers of Navajo and Hopi students learn about astronomy and astronomy activities so that they will be better able to incorporate astronomy in their classrooms.

The Program was initiated in 1996 by Dr. Hunter and Dr. Amanda Bosh (Lowell/MIT).

For more about the Program, click here.

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Uncle Percy’s Tykes Camp now on second Saturday of each month

Lowell Observatory is pleased to offer the 2013 Uncle Percy’s Tykes Camp. Intended for children ages 3 to 5, these activity-based camps are a hands on exploration of science that include STEM elements to help develop children’s observational skills.  All sessions are held on the second Saturday of the month.

These camps are led by two Lowell educators one Saturday a month from 9:30 am to 11:30 am. Each child receives a notebook to record their activities in, which include games, story time, music, engineering, art, and more!

For more information about the exciting activities, cost, and dates, click here.

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The Starry Skies Shop is online!

After months of working out the bugs and testing, a truncated version of our gift shop and science store, the Starry Skies Shop, is now online and includes Lowell t-shirts, hats, and other souvenirs. Friends of Lowell can shop using their 10 percent member discount here. Get a free reusable Lowell tote bag with your purchase of $50 or more. Want something you don’t see or have a question? Contact retail specialist Diana Weintraub at dweintraub@lowell.edu. Order by COB Thursday and USPS can deliver by 12/25.

Let the digital shopping begin!

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Cool Stars 18 coming to Lowell, Flagstaff in 2014

(Flagstaff, Ariz.) One of the largest and most prestigious astronomy conferences is coming to Flagstaff in 2014.

Lowell Observatory and its hometown, Flagstaff, Arizona, were recently selected to host the next “Cambridge Workshop on Cool Stars, Stellar Systems, and the Sun”, also known as Cool Stars. This biennial conference began in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1980, and is now held at locales around the world.

Cool Stars 18 will take place at the High Country Conference Center, June 8-14, 2014. More than 400 astronomers from around the world are expected to be in attendance. Journalists will be offered complimentary press registration; details will be provided in a future advisory.

“This is a major feather in Flagstaff’s cap,” says the Observatory’s director, Dr. Jeffrey Hall. “From modest beginnings, Cool Stars has grown to become one of the more substantial astronomical conferences, with international renown that attracts the world’s top researchers in the field. We’re delighted to have them here for a week sharing all the latest discoveries and enjoying everything Flagstaff and northern Arizona have to offer.”

Cool Stars gathers worldwide experts in low-mass stars, solar physics and exoplanets, creating a stimulating cross-disciplinary exchange environment in these fields. Cool Star meetings have a long tradition of presenting cutting-edge science, as shown by outstanding results such as the discovery of the first extrasolar planet, or exoplanet, and the first confirmed brown dwarf, which were both first announced at Cool Stars 9 in Florence, Italy in 1995. Lowell astronomer Gerard van Belle is chairing Lowell’s Cool Stars effort. “It is a real honor to have been competitively selected to host this prestigious meeting series,” Dr. van Belle said. “It says a lot about how Lowell is viewed with high esteem in the world astronomy community.”

Since 1993, Cool Stars hosts have alternated across the Atlantic; previous Cool Stars venues include Athens, GA; Barcelona, Spain; Boulder, CO (2 times); Cambridge, MA (4 times); Florence, Italy; Hamburg, Germany; Pasadena, CA; Santa Fe, NM; Seattle, WA (2 times); St. Andrews, Scotland; Tenerife, Spain; and Tucson, AZ.

Cool Stars 17 (CS17) was held this year in Barcelona, Spain. Dr. Mercedes López-Morales, the chairwoman of CS17, noted, “The selection committee in Barcelona was thrilled by Lowell’s proposal to organize Cool Stars 18 in Flagstaff. The combination of science and location were just perfect.”

Media contact: Tom Vitron, Media and Communications Coordinator, Lowell Observatory, 928-233-3260, tvitron[at]lowell.edu

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 V.M. 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 about 80,000 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 recently completed a four-meter class research telescope, the Discovery Channel Telescope. For more information, please visit www.lowell.edu.

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Lowell astronomer, collaborators point the way for exoplanet search

(Flagstaff, Ariz.) Though the search for planets around other stars, or exoplanets, is showing researchers that planets are abundant in our galaxy, it helps a great deal to have directions when searching for as-of-yet undiscovered exoplanets.

Lowell astronomer Evgenya Shkolnik and her collaborators have written such a set of directions, if you will.

Their paper, recently published in The Astrophysical Journal, examined new and existing data from stars and brown dwarfs that are less than 300 million years old, as determined from strong X-ray emission readings. In all, the authors identified 144 young targets for exoplanet searches, with 20 very strong candidates, according to Dr. Shkolnik. This candidate list is being searched for planets with Gemini’s NICI Planet-Finding Campaign and the Planets Around Low-Mass Stars survey, led by astronomer Michael Liu and graduate student Brendan Bowler, respectively, both at the Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawai‘i.

By looking for markers in spectroscopic data and measuring the motions of the stars, Shkolnik and her collaborators were able to carefully examine the age of each stars. Since low-mass stars are small and dim, they are good candidates for directly imaging planets around them. And young stars make it even easier since the young planet is still hot and bright. Plus, knowing the planetary system’s age allows for the characterization of the planet itself beyond the initial detection.

The authors sifted through data of about 8,700 stars within 100 light years of the Sun to find these candidates. The spectra were collected using two Hawaiian Mauna Kea telescopes (Keck and the Canada-France-Hawaii telescopes), and distances to the stars were measured by Guillem Anglada-Escude (Universität Göttingen) using the du Pont telescope in Chile, operated by the Carnegie Institution for Science.

“Since low-mass stars are the most common type of star in our galaxy, most planets probably reside in these environments,” says Mr. Bowler. “Finding young versions of these stars to search for planets is fundamental to understanding the galactic census of exoplanets.”

“These young stars help point the way. And if the Jupiter-mass planets are there, we will find them,” notes Dr. Shkolnik.

In this search, planet hunters are happy to have directions but they know the landscape of our understanding is subject to change.

The full list of authors is:

Evgenya L. Shkolnik(1), Guillem Anglada-Escudé(2), Michael C. Liu(3), Brendan P. Bowler(3), Alycia J. Weinberger(4), Alan P. Boss(4), I. Neill Reid(5), and Motohide Tamura(6)

(1) Lowell Observatory, 1400 W. Mars Hill Road, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA

(2) Institut für Astrophysik, Universität Göttingen, Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany

(3) Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii at Manoa 2680 Woodlawn Drive, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA

(4) Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution for Science, 5241 Broad Branch Road, NW, Washington, DC 20015, USA

(5) Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA

(6) National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Tokyo, Japan

 

Abstract: http://iopscience.iop.org/0004-637X/758/1/56

Online release: http://www.lowell.edu/news/

 

This infrared image was taken at 1.6 microns with the Keck 2 telescope on Mauna Kea. The star is seen here behind a partly transparent coronagraph mask to help bring out faint companions. The mask attenuates the light from the primary by roughly a factor of 1000. The young brown dwarf companion in this image has a mass of about 32 Jupiter masses. The physical separation here is about 120 AU. Also, the primary star was identified as a young star for the first time by Dr. Shkolnik. Image Credit:  B. Bowler/IFA

 

Science contact: Evgenya Shkolnik, Assistant Astronomer, Lowell Observatory, 928-233-3220, shkolnik[at]lowell.edu

Media contact: Chuck Wendt, Deputy Director for Advancement, Lowell Observatory, 928-233-3201, cwendt[at]lowell.edu

 

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 V.M. 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 about 80,000 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 recently completed a four-meter class research telescope, the Discovery Channel Telescope. For more information, please visit www.lowell.edu.

 

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Donate to Lowell’s Library/Collections Center Capital Campaign

Lowell Observatory recently announced plans for a new Library and Collections Center which will house the Observatory’s extensive historical collections and provide much-needed library and office space for its growing science and support staff.

For more about this project or to donate, click here.

Thanks for your support!

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Lowell’s NSF-funded Large Monolithic Imager sees first light on the Discovery Channel Telescope

 

Galaxy NGC 891 as imaged by the Large Monolithic Imager (Lowell Observatory)

(Flagstaff, Ariz.) The Large Monolithic Imager (LMI), a camera built at Lowell Observatory and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), recently took a set of first-light images on Lowell’s 4.3-m Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT). At the heart of the LMI is the largest charge-coupled device (CCD) that can be built using current fabrication techniques and the first of its kind to be made by e2v. The 36-megapixel CCD’s active surface is 3.7 inches on a side. The LMI’s ability to provide much more accurate measurements of the faint light around galaxies separates it from cameras that use a mosaic of CCDs to produce images.

The attached first-light image is of NGC 891, an edge-on spiral galaxy about 30 million light-years away in the Andromeda constellation. The image was obtained by Lowell’s Phil Massey, Ted Dunham, and Mike Sweaton, and then turned into a beautiful color composite by Kathryn Neugent. The exposure consisted of 10×1 min (B), 5×1 min (V), and 6×1 min (R), all unguided.

In the coming months, astronomers from Lowell and its DCT institutional partners — Boston University, the University of Maryland, and the University of Toledo — will be getting many more images like this as the Telescope’s commissioning continues.

Science contact: Phil Massey, Astronomer and LMI Principal Investigator, Lowell Observatory, 928-233-3264, phil.massey[at]lowell.edu

Science contact (alternative): Deidre Hunter, Astronomer, Deputy Director for Science and LMI co-Investigator, Lowell Observatory, 928-233-3225, deidre.hunter[at]lowell.edu

Media contact: Chuck Wendt, Deputy Director for Advancement, Lowell Observatory, 928-233-3201, cwendt[at]lowell.edu

 

About the Large Monolithic Imager (LMI)

Built at Lowell Observatory and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the LMI is an all-purpose optical imager featuring a 36-megapixel CCD with a field of view nearly 13 arcminutes by 13 arcminutes. The LMI uses a single chip, which permits more efficient use of observing time (by not dithering), and far less reduction time, resulting in higher scientific throughput. The LMI will serve as the principal imager and workhorse instrument for the DCT, enabling studies from solar system to extragalactic objects. The instrument will allow the determination of the physical properties of comets and also provide the means of investigating the mass-luminosity relationship for both the highest and lowest mass stars. The LMI also sets a precedent for wide-field imaging with monolithic cameras, as well as for more efficient future mosaics. To maximize the field of view, the LMI is mounted at the straight-through position of the DCT’s Ritchey-Chretien instrument cube. The LMI CCD is a 6.1Kx6.1K 15-micron device produced by e2v, their first, with a high DQE 4-layer AR coating. The special coating makes the chip very sensitive over the entire visible spectrum, from the near ultraviolet to the near infrared. The LMI contains 18 filters, including broad-band and specialized interference filters.

A high-resolution version of the NGC 891 image can be found at here. More details about the LMI can be found here.

 

About the Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT)

The Discovery Channel Telescope – built by Lowell Observatory near Flagstaff, Arizona – is among the most technically sophisticated ground-based telescopes of its size. The Telescope, the fifth largest telescope in the continental United States, is completed and being commissioned at a dark-sky site on the Coconino National Forest approximately 45 miles SSE of Flagstaff. The project is being undertaken in partnership with Discovery Communications. Construction and commissioning of the telescope and associated infrastructure will cost approximately $53 million. The telescope will significantly augment Lowell Observatory’s observational capability and enable pioneering studies in a number of important research areas. First light took place in May 2012. Institutional DCT partners include Boston University (in perpetuity), the University of Maryland, and the University of Toledo. For more information, please visit www.lowell.edu/dct.php.

 

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 about 80,000 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 recently completed a four-meter class research telescope, the Discovery Channel Telescope. For more information, please visit www.lowell.edu.

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Dava Sobel book signing

On Saturday, Sept. 15 at 8 PM, renowned author Dava Sobel will sign copies of her books. Regular admission applies.

At 7 PM, Sobel presents a talk about her latest book, “A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos.” In her talk, Sobel will discuss why she chose to treat the period of the Copernican Revolution as a play-within-a-book. Her drama, ”And the Sun Stood Still,” imagines how Copernicus was convinced to publish his theory of a Sun-centered universe. After a short Q&A session, Sobel will sign copies of this book.

LIMITED SEATING IS AVAILABLE FOR THE TALK AND A SIMULCAST OF THE TALK. Tickets, which are regular admission price, must be purchased ahead of time at the Starry Skies Shop at Lowell. On Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, the Shop is open 9 AM to 9:30 PM. On Thursday, the Shop is open 9 AM to 5 PM.

Please check this blog for ticket availability updates.

*As of Friday at noon, tickets are still available but going fast!*

In addition to this presentation, view breathtaking celestial objects through telescopes and enjoy exciting multimedia programs.

Program note: Lowell educator Glen Bessonette’s History Series talk, “V. M. Slipher, the Man Who Discovered the Expanding Universe” was scheduled for this time but has been cancelled.

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