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Campaign to restore Flagstaff telescope within sights of finish line

PHOENIX — An effort to raise $250,000 to restore a Lowell Observatory telescope is within sight of the finishing line, the observatory said.

Lowell Observatory is within $70,000 dollars to reach the amount needed to restore a telescope that has been aimed skyward since 1896.

Kevin Schindler with the observatory said the Clark Telescope was used to map the moon for landings and scan the surface of Mars. But after 117 years on the job it needs a bit of work because it’s basically being held together with bubble gum and bailing wire.

“You had people taking care of it that were pretty…creative,” he said. “Like using 1954 Ford pickup truck tires, a frying pan as a lens cap and a bicycle chain to move gears around. It has a lot of quirky things so we want to maintain that.”

The Clark was the first large telescope in the American Southwest and has been used on almost every clear night for a century.