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Lowell Observatory is a private, non-profit research institution founded in 1894 by Percival Lowell. Lowell Observatory is among the oldest observatories in the United States, and is a Registered National Historic Landmark. The Observatory's original 24-inch Alvan Clark Telescope is still in use today for public education. The trustee of Lowell Observatory is William Lowell Putnam, grandnephew of founder Percival Lowell.
Lowell Observatory's astronomers conduct research on a range of solar system and astrophysical topics using ground-based, airborne, and space-based telescopes. Among the current programs are: a search for planets orbiting other stars; investigations of the Kuiper Belt; a decades-long study of the brightness stability of the sun; and investigations of star formation and other processes in distant galaxies. In addition, the Observatory staff designs and builds instrumentation for use on Lowell's telescopes and elsewhere. For example, Lowell staff built a high-speed camera for use on the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). SOFIA is a joint project of the United States and German space agencies and consists of a 2.5-meter telescope on board a Boeing 747 SP.
Lowell Observatory is building a major new telescope in partnership with Discovery Communications, LLC., near Happy Jack in Northern Arizona. The telescope, located within the Mogollon Rim Ranger District of the Coconino National Forest, will be the fifth largest in the continental United States and will allow Lowell astronomers to enter new research areas and conduct existing programs more effectively and efficiently. The DCT and the research it enables also will be the focus of ongoing informative and educational television programs about astronomy, science, and technology airing on Discovery networks. In addition, the Discovery Channel Telescope is expected to have a significant educational and economic impact within the state.