The VIP Experience includes access to:
5-hour bus/walking tour on the day of February 19
Exclusive viewing session through Lowell’s Dyer Telescope on the evening of February 19
February 18 Night of Discovery celebration at the Orpheum Theater
All I Heart Pluto programs at Lowell Observatory
Entrance into VIP events
All VIPs will be issued a commemorative I Heart Pluto lanyard. Simply wear these for access to all events. You may pick up your lanyard at the first event you attend (anytime between November 12-17 at Lowell Observatory’s admission desk, on November 18 from 5-9pm at the Orpheum Theater, or on November 19 at Lowell Observatory.
This is a combination walking/bus tour. We’ll start with a walk around the Lowell Observatory campus, then board a bus and drive to the observatory’s Anderson Mesa research site. Following a tour there, we’ll drive to the Orpheum Theater in downtown Flagstaff and then walk for about a half mile, retracing Clyde Tombaugh’s day of discovering Pluto. We’ll end with a drink and snacks at the I Heart Pluto Festival’s lead sponsor, Runaway Coffeehouse and Night Club. We’ll then ride the bus back to Lowell, arriving by 5:30pm. After dinner on your own, come back to Lowell at 8pm for telescope viewing through Lowell’s new 24-inch Dyer Telescope.
*Alden & Cherylee Tombaugh and Jim & Charlene Christy will join us for the daytime portion of the VIP Tour. Alden is Clyde Tombaugh’s son and Cherylee is Alden’s wife; Jim discovered Charon in 1978 and named it in honor of his wife, Charlene. They will be glad to chat with you throughout the tour.
Tour of Putnam Collection Center and the Plate Vault. For 50 years, the two Pluto discovery plates were separated, with one in the Lowell archives and the other on display at the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum. The two were reunited last year and are now preserved together in the Putnam Collection Center. Join Archivist/Librarian Lauren Amundson as she shares these plates, as well as other Pluto-related items in our collections. You’ll also have the chance to explore the plate vault deep in the recesses of the Slipher Building. Dr. Stephen Levine will explain the new project that involves scanning the thousands of Pluto search plates and making the data available for researchers.
Tour of Lowell Observatory’s Anderson Mesa dark sky site (note this is in place of the originally planned tour of the US Naval Observatory Flagstaff station, which had to be cancelled due to ongoing COVID restrictions).
The Anderson Mesa dark sky site was established in the late 1950s and is the locale of several of Lowell’s research telescopes. On this tour, we’ll take an outside tour of the tantalizing Navy Precision Optical Interferomoter (NPOI). This technological marvel uses an array of mirrors spread tens to hundreds of meters apart to make highly accurate measurements of light from objects in space. The NPOI is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Naval Observatory, the Naval Research Laboratory, and Lowell Observatory. NPOI can record images of stars and optically separate distant pairs of stars so close together that they appear as a single star in even the largest conventional telescopes.
NPOI has the ability to measure the precise relative positions of stars across the sky, which the Naval Observatory uses as a reference system for the determination of positions on Earth and in space and for monitoring time keeping.
We’ll also take an exclusive tour inside the dome that houses the 42-inch Hall Telescope. Opened in 1970, this instrument has been key in studying comets and asteroids as well as studying long-term behavior of the Sun and Sun-like stars.
Tour Pluto Discovery Day. After the USNO tour, we’ll get back on the bus and ride to downtown Flagstaff, where we’ll retrace Clyde Tombaugh’s “Day of Discovery”. Along a half-mile walk, see the Orpheum Theatre, where Clyde watched a movie on the evening of discovery, Karma Sushi Bar Grill (it was then known as the Black Cat Café), where he ate his meals, and the old post office building (now Aspen Sports) where he picked up the observatory’s mail.
Pluto Drink at The Runway Coffee House and Night Club. Pluto tours can make you thirsty, so from the old post office building we’ll walk a couple blocks to The Runway (previously named Civano), which is a coffee house during the day but transforms into a night club in the evening. After a refreshing “Pluto” drink here, we’ll return by bus to Lowell Observatory.
Back at Lowell Observatory
Telescope viewing through Lowell’s new 24-inch Dyer Telescope, located on the main Lowell Observatory campus.
The VIP Pluto Experience requires advance reservation and has limited spaces available.