Lowell Is Restoring the Pluto Discovery Telescope
Tom Spendlove posted on July 16, 2016 |

When Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930 he achieved the ultimate goal of Percival Lowell. In 1905 Lowell founded the Lowell Observatory with the objective of finding Planet X, what he theorized to be the ninth planet. The Lowell Observatory is now running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the restoration of what is now called the Pluto Discovery Telescope, in Flagstaff, Arizona.

The Pluto Discovery Telescope has been in consistent service for eighty seven years now and is showing signs of wear and degradation. The lens assembly and mount are the major systems in need of an overhaul but other components will also receive attention. The drive motor will be examined and repaired along with some upgrades to the system electronics. Control systems and components will be overhauled and upgraded after a comprehensive cleaning.

Five members of the Lowell staff are heading the project that will take an estimated six to nine months. The team was previously in charge of Lowell's Clark Telescope restoration and consists of machinists, woodworkers, electricians and mechanical technicians.

'History and pride' are the observatory's main reasons for restoring the telescope. Dr. Alan Stern says that the discovery of Pluto not only gave us the ninth planet but led to better understanding of the Kuiper Belt and the third zone of our solar system.

Restoring the Pluto Discovery Telescope is a huge ambitious project that will give longevity and focus to an important piece of engineering history. The campaign page has a great rundown of the repairs and upgrades that will be made, and a great discussion of the history of the observatory and the discovery of Pluto. The Kickstarter campaign ends on August 22, 2016 and the project itself is expected to be complete in May 2017.

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