Though we didn't quite get to our online goal, we are proud to announce that we reached our initial total goal through the kindness of several individuals!
We are in the process of getting perks ready to send out to all the generous "Restore The Clark" donors.
We plan to start the restoration this fall and will be keeping people updated via exclusive member media (newsletters, video updates), lowell.edu, our Facebook page and our Twitter feed (@PercivalLowell).
If you are still interested in helping, there are many more Clark items that need restoring. We budgeted only for essential restoration work but we really would like to address every telescope and dome issue, including new needs we might discover when we begin the work. Contact Samantha at firstname.lastname@example.org or (928) 233-3263 for more information.
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!
The Clark has wowed more than 2 million people and, as we expand our public offerings, we are preparing to show the night skies above to 1 million people with the Clark in the next decade alone!
"There's definitely an important historic significance to the location but I think to remain significant going forward, [the Clark] has to participate in astronomy somehow. There aren't currently scientists using the telescope to make discoveries but there is an important aspect of public involvement and public education where it is a valuable and important tool to help make more of the public aware of what is above our heads. I think that's the role for the telescope going forward."
-Emily Lakdawalla, Senior Editor, The Planetary Society
Raising $257K will allow us to make the improvements necessary to keep the so-called "People's Telescope" in operation. Aside from regular public visitation, the Clark is used for school visits, our Uncle Percy's Kids Camp, astronomy club visits, and as many special programs as it can support.
This steampunk behemoth is the "showstopper" when you visit Lowell and we simply cannot let the show actually come to a grinding halt! See below for more Clark history and details on the restoration work it badly needs. Also check out our multimedia campaign updates (tab above).
Thanks for your support!
In 1895, Lowell Observatory founder Percival Lowell commissioned the Alvan Clark & Sons Firm of Cambridgeport, Massachusetts to build a state-of-the-art 24” refracting telescope. Since completion of the project the following year, the telescope has been in regular use to view the heavens and help unravel the wonders of the universe. While Lowell staff members have conscientiously maintained the telescope through the years, the facility is now in need of a large-scale overhaul, requiring disassembly of the telescope and replacement of parts no longer functioning properly.
Percival Lowell initially used the telescope to further his legendary theories about intelligent life on Mars, research that brought worldwide attention to Lowell Observatory. Percival’s elegant writings about his research, based on observations made with the Clark Telescope, inspired the work of both scientists, such as rocket expert Robert Goddard, and writers, including science fiction icons H.G Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Later generations used the Clark Telescope to study double stars, moons, comets, and more. Of particular note, V.M. Slipher revolutionized our understanding of space with his observations of the expanding nature of the universe. He made these fundamental discoveries while using the Clark Telescope in conjunction with an instrument called a spectrograph, a device astronomers use to not only determine the composition of celestial objects, but also detect their line-of-site-motion.
In the 1960s, a team of scientists and artists used the Clark Telescope to create detailed maps of the moon in support of America’s manned voyages to the moon. Apollo astronauts studied these maps and some even used the Clark Telescope for part of their training to go to the moon.
By the 1980s, education replaced research as the primary use of the Clark Telescope. Since 1994, more than a million guests have had the opportunity to enjoy the telescope by joining daytime historic tours or viewing celestial objects during the evening. In 2012, 80,000 people – including 7,500 school children – visited the facility. By 2015, we anticipate these numbers to increase to 110,000 and 8,500.
In 2012, Lowell launched a new education initiative, Uncle Percy’s Kids Camp, and in 2013 we are moving forth with other efforts, including an ambitious long-range plan to establish the Observatory as a center for STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education. The Clark Telescope is critical to the long-term success of these endeavors.
During the past several years, the telescope has become more and more difficult to move, due to the degradation of the main support bearings in the optical tube. If this problem continues, the telescope will become inoperable. To avoid this outcome, we will remove (using a crane) and dismantle the optical tube and replace faulty parts, most of which will be fabricated in-house.
We will also clean all components, including the primary lens, optical tube, and main pier. If necessary, we will strip and recoat the pier.
Old wiring is a major safety issue with the dome, recently resulting in sparking and arcing. We will thus replace all existing wiring, as well as switch gear and load center.
We will also replace the shutter doors, which no longer operate properly on a regular basis (leaving us with no other option on some nights but to shut down the facility). Additionally, we will repair metal siding, particularly in areas where snow and rain enter the dome, and refinish the floor.
We will complete the project within nine months of receiving funding, with most of the work done onsite. This will allow visitors to see progress first-hand. We will then host a dedication and grand reopening of the telescope.
Ralph Nye, Lowell’s Senior Facilities Engineer, will supervise and, in many cases, perform, the work. Instrument Maker Steve Lauman will fabricate the replacement parts. To assure compliance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, the Observatory will retain the services of an historic preservation architect, who will interface with the State of Arizona Historic Preservation Office.
For more information about the Clark Telescope Historic Preservation Project, please contact Lowell Outreach Manager Kevin Schindler at email@example.com or (928) 233-3210.
Your help is crucial for the continued operation of what is now the "People's Telescope." Please help us by making a contribution, if you are able, and by sharing our story with your friends and family. Thank you and see you soon on Mars Hill!