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.
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.
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.
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