/ Modified aug 23, 2013 12:28 p.m.

Collecting Light Part 2: A Century of Stargazing

A look at the colorful history and characters that made astronomy big in Arizona


On a forested mesa west of Flagstaff sits Lowell Observatory, the birthplace of astronomy in the Southwest. It was here that Percival Lowell built a telescope in 1896 (pictured at bottom of page). Another one was added in 1928 (pictured below). Lowell was a wealthy eccentric who could afford to build his own observatory, and staff it with research astronomers.

astro-pluto-telescope_spot The Pluto Discovery Telescope was built in 1928 to look for "Planet X," later known as Pluto. (PHOTO: Mark Duggan)

One of those astronomers was A.E. Douglass, who eventually moved to Tucson and started the astronomy department and Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona. Over the next 60 years, this would lead to multiple observatories being built on southern Arizona mountaintops, and would thrust the UA into the position of being the preeminent school for astronomy.

astro-mirror-lab_spot The Steward Observatory Mirror Lab now makes primary mirrors for some of the world's largest telescopes. (PHOTO: Mark Duggan)

Dr. Wes Lockwood of the Lowell Observatory and Dr. Thomas Fleming of the Steward Observatory are our guides for a trip through the pages of Arizona astronomy history.

Visit the Collecting Light website for more stories, interviews, resources and images.

By posting comments, you agree to our
AZPM encourages comments, but comments that contain profanity, unrelated information, threats, libel, defamatory statements, obscenities, pornography or that violate the law are not allowed. Comments that promote commercial products or services are not allowed. Comments in violation of this policy will be removed. Continued posting of comments that violate this policy will result in the commenter being banned from the site.

By submitting your comments, you hereby give AZPM the right to post your comments and potentially use them in any other form of media operated by this institution.
Arizona Public Media broadcast stations are licensed to the Arizona Board of Regents. Arizona Public Media and AZPM are registered trademarks of the Arizona Board of Regents.
The University of Arizona