Universe Guide

Clyde Tombaugh

American astronomer who is famous for discovering the planet Pluto. Since being discovered, it has been downgraded to a dwarf planet, a grey area in astronomy that is still being debated. At the time of its discovery, the kuiper belt had yet to be discovered with its large numbers of rocks.

After his birth, his family were to move to Burdett Kansas where his interest in astronomy began. After building his own telescope, he sent his observations to the Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona. They were so impressed with what he had sent them, that they offered him a job there and naturally he accepted. He had discovered the planet after studying images that had been taken by the observatory of the night sky. The work was hard and painstaking involving comparing different images taken of the same sky at different times. If an object moved, he knew he had found the planet. After much work, he found what he was looking for on the 18th February 1930.

The planet was named Pluto after an international competition by a British schoolgirl on 1st May 1930. Pluto was the name of the Roman God of the Underworld who could render himself invisible.

Clyde was married to Patricia and had a two children, Annette and Alden. All three, he named asteroids after them e.g. 2839 Annette. The 1604 Tombaugh asteroid is named after him.

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