The Fox News article Arizona city played critical role in moon exploration history covers several interesting activities that took place in Arizona in preparation for the Apollo Moon landings.

It shows the telescope (shown below) and mentions that it was used to draw lunar maps.

Question: Is it possible to identify which telescope this is exactly? Is there some place where one can read more about it?

click images for full size viewing

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above: Lowell Observatory telescope used by scientists who collaborated with artists to map out the moon for Apollo astronauts (Fox News)

below: Screenshot from July 9, 2019 Fox News video NASA lunar legacy in the Arizona desert

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That's the historic 24-inch Alvan Clark refractor. It was installed in 1896 and restored in 2014-15. Besides the moon mapping project, Percival Lowell used it to observe Mars, and Vesto Slipher used it for some of the first measurements of galaxy redshifts. Its current mission is education; in mild weather the observatory lets visitors look through it.

Roger Vine's Scope Views has more photos and a detailed description.

  • $\begingroup$ I'll give those a look, thanks for the speedy answer! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 11 '19 at 6:19

I contacted Dr. Danielle Adams, Deputy Director for Marketing and Communications at the Lowell Observatory. She was kind enough to reply, and generously provided the following:

...this is the 24" Alvan Clark & Sons refractor, commissioned by observatory founder Percival Lowell in 1895 and completed in 1896. It was fully restored in 2015, a process that took 18 months, since we restored or replaced everything, down to the screw.

The Clark Refractor, as we typically call it, was first used to study Mars and other planets by Percival Lowell, but it also has a storied history in studying deep-space objects. In 1912-1914, VM Slipher used a spectrograph attached to the Clark Refractor to study the redshift of M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, and in doing so he found the first evidence that the universe was expanding. (Edwin Hubble later used this data and his own research to refine this.)

In the 1960's ('61-'69), the Clark Refractor was used by the USAF's Aeronautical Chart and Information Center to develop highly-detailed maps of the moon, using a combination of photography and professional illustration at the telescope during exquisite moments of seeing. Today, the Clark Refractor is no longer used for research, which allows us to dedicate it fully to public observing for guests who visit the observatory. We also recently started after hours sessions for guests who want to spend more time with the Clark after the observatory has officially closed.

Lowell Observatory's Historian, Kevin Schindler, literally wrote the book(s) on the Clark Refractor. There's a link to his latest book (post-restoration) and a mini-documentary about the process here: https://lowell.edu/history/the-clark-refractor.

In response to my comment above. she continues:

Also, note that in response to the connected question about which wood was used to line observatory copulas, in the case of both the Clark Refractor and the Pluto Astropgraph at Lowell Observatory, local Ponderosa Pine is the sole that was used for the domes. Flagstaff is home to the largest contiguous grove of Ponderosa Pine in the world, a tree that grows tall and straight, making it perfect for building.


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