Pictured above: U.S. Naval Observatory, Flagstaff Station
Tickets for the I Heart Pluto Festival are available at three different levels: Standard Admission, the Pluto Lover Package, and the VIP Pluto Experience. While all three ticket levels provide access to the main events of the festival on February 15th, only the VIP Pluto Experience will provide festival-goers with an all-access look behind the scenes of Pluto’s discovery. VIPs will also receive a special commemorative I Heart Pluto t-shirt and can koozie upon their arrival to the observatory.
The VIP Lowell Tour will begin in the Rotunda Museum at 9 am. This tour features a rare visit to the plate vault to view one of the two glass plates Clyde Tombaugh used to discover Pluto—the other plate is currently on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.. VIPs will also see the apartment and office of Clyde Tombaugh and the fully-restored 13-inch astrograph that Tombaugh used to discover Pluto in 1930. Afterwards, VIPs will visit the site of the telescope where observatory staff unknowingly captured images of Pluto 15 years before Tombaugh’s groundbreaking discovery. The tour will finish at the famed Zeiss Blink Comparator, just in time for its rededication ceremony.
After taking a step back in time with the Lowell Tour, VIPs will take a step forward to the present and future of planetary research as they embark on the VIP Bus Tour. This tour will depart from Lowell Observatory 1 pm, taking VIPs to Northern Arizona University’s campus to get an all-access look at the various astronomical research labs conducting cutting-edge research on the planets of our solar system and beyond. At 2:15 pm, the bus will leave for the U.S. Naval Observatory (Flagstaff Station) where Charon was discovered in 1978. There, VIPs will be given a tour of the facility as they learn about its past and present research.
The bus will arrive back at Lowell Observatory at 3:45, in time for the Pluto Art Gallery Reception and a tasting of Mother Road Brewing Company’s limited-edition Pluto Porter. VIP tickets also include complimentary access to Pluto Discovery Day at downtown Flagstaff’s Orpheum Theater on February 18th, which requires a separate ticket with general admission.
The VIP Pluto Experience is perfect for anyone with a passion for Pluto’s rich history, as well as an eye on the future of astronomical research. For those who love Pluto but don’t need all the bells and whistles, the Pluto Lover Package includes access to all general admission events as well as a commemorative I Heart Pluto t-shirt and can koozie.
View package details and purchase tickets here.