Lowell Observatory’s vision for its education program is bold and simple: to be the premier public astronomy destination in the world. The observatory took a critical step toward achieving that goal on Saturday by breaking ground on a new 40,000-square-foot, $37.5 million discovery center.
The Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation Astronomy Discovery Center (ADC) will be six times the size of Lowell’s current visitor facility and will accommodate greatly increased annual attendance to Lowell’s outreach programs, according to a press release.
A few raindrops didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the speakers or onlookers. The 60-minute ceremony included remarks by Flagstaff Mayor Paul Deasy, Coconino County Supervisor Jeronimo Vasquez and Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers, followed by a ceremonial sod-turning.
The Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation is the lead sponsor of the ADC, and Trustee Nancy Ball spoke about how her colleagues’ love of astronomy drove the organization’s support of the project. She added, “This project will inspire and educate people of all ages, for generations to come, on the beauty and wonder of astronomy.”
Lowell Observatory Sole Trustee W. Lowell Putnam echoed this passion for the universe and the inspiration it generates. He said, “Percival Lowell spoke of the importance of ‘co-discovery’, that scientists should communicate what they find in ways that excite and engage others. The new ADC will allow us to share our research and understanding of the universe with visitors in a unique and inspiring way.”