Lowell Observatory will reopen general admission on Nov. 15 with new guest protocols to keep guests and staff safe from COVID-19, according to a press release. Guests will again be able to visit day or night to explore the historic campus, look through state-of-the-art telescopes, and learn about the stories of the stars and our place in the universe. This will conclude a period of 20 months during which the observatory has been closed or offered only limited programming due to COVID-19-related health concerns.
The return to general admission will occur in two parts and is the third and final phase of the reopening plan that the observatory developed last year (lowell.edu/covid). Initially, in Phase 3A, guests aged 12+ will need to show results from a negative COVID-19 lab test within 72 hours of visiting the observatory, or they can provide proof of vaccination, which has been so effective at preventing infections. Children aged 2-11 will need to wear masks whenever indoors while vaccinations are not yet available to them. Every member of the observatory's public-facing staff is fully vaccinated.
Lowell Observatory Director Jeff Hall noted that this is a stepping stone to the ultimate goal of unrestricted general admission.
“Phase 3A allows us to return to general admission now in a manner that is safe for our guests and staff alike. We look forward to Phase 3B, when we are once again fully open," he said. "As soon as the Delta numbers subside to the endemic level that all of us will live with for the rest of our lives, we will reopen fully without restrictions.”
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Lowell Observatory initially closed its doors to the public on March 13, 2020, to help deter the spread of COVID-19. In August 2020, the observatory entered Phase 1 of its reopening plan, opening on a very limited basis with a small number of private observing experiences. In April 2021, the observatory entered Phase 2 of its reopening plan, with a limited slate of guided tours.
Throughout the pandemic, Lowell Observatory has relied upon the guidance of local and national scientific experts to help shape its operational planning. Dr. Dave Engelthaler of TGen North — the Flagstaff branch of the Translational Genomics Research Institute — said, "I'm really excited that the best science outcomes from the pandemic — namely the COVID vaccines — are allowing the best science experience in Flagstaff — Lowell Observatory — to re-open to the public. This is just one more sign that we are finally moving into a post-pandemic world."
Complete information about the observatory’s general admission offerings and guest protocols is available at lowell.edu/welcomeback.