Bits of the region's star-gazing history are the focus of Monday's Public Evening at Steward Observatory, which will mark its 90th birthday Tuesday.

Tom Fleming, the Steward astronomer who organizes the monthly talks, will speak about Andrew Ellicott Douglass, who founded the UA Department of Astronomy and its observatory with a gift from Lavinia Steward of Oracle in 1923.

Astronomer Laird Close will talk about telescope maker Alvan Clark, whom Fleming calls the "finest telescope maker of the 19th century."

W. John Cocke, emeritus professor of astronomy, will talk about the 1969 discovery of the optical pulsar in the center of the Crab Nebula, which brought international attention to Kitt Peak and Steward Observatory.

A 5-inch Clark refractor, used as a finding scope for Steward's 36-inch telescope since its inception, has been brought down from Kitt Peak for the birthday celebration.

Weather permitting, it will be available for viewing the night sky on Monday along with the 21-inch telescope now installed in the original Steward dome.

The lectures begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Steward Observatory building, 933 N. Cherry Ave., Room N210.

And on Thursday, beginning at 6:45 p.m., Flagstaff's Lowell Observatory will host a gathering at Sky Bar, 536 N. Fourth Ave., to encourage Tucsonans to join its campaign to refurbish the 117-year-old Clark Telescope that Percival Lowell had built to search for signs of life on Mars.

The event is co-sponsored by the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association, the dark-sky program GLOBE at Night and the Arizona Experience project of the Arizona Geological Survey.

Representatives of all four institutions will make brief presentations and telescopes will be available for viewing.

Raffle prizes include a GoPro camera.


7:30 p.m. Monday, Steward Observatory, 933 N. Cherry Ave., Room N210.