Clyde Tombaugh

Topics: Pluto, Clyde Tombaugh, Planet Pages: 3 (1177 words) Published: February 10, 2013
Astronomy Final Paper
Clyde Tombaugh is not exactly a household name even though he discovered something that each and every one of us has learned about. He is accredited with the discovery of the now ex- planet Pluto. Clyde was born in Streator, Illinois February 4, 1907. At a young age his family moved to Kansas to start their own farm. Clyde had planned on going away to college the fall after moving to Kansas, but this was all put on hold when a hailstorm had ruined his families’ entire crop and he was forced to stay home and work on the farm. Clyde, while stuck on the farm, began to become interested in the sky and the stars, and at the age of 20, he started building his own unique telescopes and lenses to observe planets and he would draw what he saw. He would send these drawings of the planets to the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. This eventually got him a job at the observatory due to his drawings impressing the director of the time Vesto Melvin Slipher. Clyde worked at the observatory from 1929 to 1945 and in this time he made his biggest discovery of finding Pluto in 1930. The way Clyde would observe the universe is, he would take photographs of the sky taken two weeks apart then he would examine each pair of pictures and determine if any celestial objects had shifted. The observations were done using a blink comparator, which is mainly used for finding celestial bodies by taking pictures a few days apart with a “blink” and then comparing them to see if any shifts were made. This was much like the previous search for Pluto or as it was then called Planet X, by astronomer Percival Lowell. Percival spent his lifetime searching vigorously for a planet he calculated to be in that position. He attempted so record pictures using his telescope but was never successful in being able to identify it, unlike Clyde. The naming of Pluto fell to him and while looking for suggestions nothing seemed good until an 11 year old girl from England proposed...
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