Flagstaff is home to Lowell Observatory. Percival Lowell was a pioneer astronomer and also branches off of our family tree. Both Brody and I share the Lowell name: Brody Lowell Wesley Friend and Elizabeth Ellen Lowell Kipp. Nevermind that Percival is known for mistakenly asserting there was life on Mars as evidenced by the many canals he could see and diagrammed. But he was right about where a 9th planet would be found and after his death an astronomer at the observatory discovered Pluto.
With the advancements in technology much has been learned about our solar system and the universe in the past decade. We now have a good understanding of why Pluto was designated a Dwarf Planet. Turns out astronomers hadn’t really ever defined what made a planet a planet. When they had a big astronomer party and made a definition – Pluto didn’t fit. Basically Pluto doesn’t make other objects get out of it’s way. If Pluto stays a planet then all of a sudden other orbiting spherical objects in our solar system become planets. That would be too many to learn. I don’t think they will be re-writing the lyrics to Interplanet Janet anytime soon though.
We spent over four hours touring and listening to lectures and left wishing we could have spent more time. We were able to see and touch telescopes over 100 years old and used by the likes of Neil Armstrong to prepare for the trip to the moon. They had portable telescopes outside which allowed us to see nebulas and star clusters that were completely invisible to the naked eye. The facility was staffed by undergraduates from nearby Northern Arizona University, their passion and enthusiasm kept us engaged at every stop.
During the astrology lecture Brody shocked me.
Lecturer: Capricorn is this constellation here
Brody: That’s a goat
Lecturer: Sagitarrius is here
Brody: That’s half body half horse
Mom: How do you know this?
Brody: Beyblade people have those names
Yes – one of those ridiculous cartoon shows watched by Brody has characters that are patterned after the Zodiac.