Is Pluto A Planet? How Clyde Tombaugh Discovered Pluto In 1930

On February 18, 1930, a young, curious, self-taught astronomer named Clyde Tombaugh made an observation that changed the way we think about our galaxy as well as the trajectory of our own life. Who was Clyde Tombaugh? How did he discover Pluto? Is Pluto also a planet?

Clyde Tombaugh

Clyde Tombaugh was born on February 4, 1906, in Streeter, Illinois. He was the son of poor farmers Muron Delvo Tombaugh and Adela Pearl Chirton Tombaugh, who moved to Burdett, Kansas when young Clyde was 16. After graduating from the local high school, the space enthusiast planned to study astronomy in college, but his dreams were derailed when a violent hailstorm destroyed the family's crops, leaving them on the verge of bankruptcy. But reached.

Although Tombaugh was devastated by financial and academic setbacks, he was determined to continue his independent study of planets and stars. In 1926, Tombaugh began manufacturing a series of homemade telescopes with powerful lenses and mirrors, which he learned from an article in Popular Astronomy. With just a shovel in hand, he dug a large trench in his backyard to create a stable temperature and wind-free environment, ensuring the most accurate images, though his family used it as a root cellar and tornado shelter. He also taught himself complex geometry and trigonometry to analyze his observations.

Planet X

He sent his drawings and reports to the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona for advice from his scientists, enticing the observatory's owner, Percival Lowell, who invited 23-year-old Tombaugh to work for him. Lowell was an eccentric businessman who built the observatory largely to prove his suspicions that Mars had artificial irrigation canals, but by the time Tombaugh entered his life, he had moved on to a new domesticated theory. Were: A possible ninth planet orbiting the Sun beyond Neptune. He was not alone - astronomers of that time called the theoretical celestial body Planet X.

At Lowell Observatory, Tombaugh fulfills his employer's wish to identify the planet, though perhaps not in the way he had hoped. Tombaugh compared two photos of a field of only a single star, taken over a span of six days, and noted that while all the stars remained stationary, a small, dim object at the far edge of the galaxy – now known as Pluto Known - appears to have moved.

Legacy of Tombaugh

The identity of Pluto brought Tombog into the limelight. The University of Kansas offered him a full scholarship, and he earned both bachelor's and master's degrees in astronomy in 1936 and 1938, respectively. He fell in love with the daughter of the owners of the boardinghouse where he lived during his studies, Patsy Edson, and the young couple married in 1934 before having two children.

Tombaugh turned out to be no one-planet wonder. He is credited with identifying and naming 15 asteroids and contributing important observations about about 800 additional asteroids, identifying many new galaxies and star clusters, and noting important details about the surfaces of many planets. Is. He even named his own comet, 274P/Tombaugh-Tenagra, named after him. He continued his work at Lowell Observatory until the 1940s, when he instructed members of the military on navigation at Northern Arizona University, and worked for the White Sands Missile Range and astronomy at New Mexico State University until his retirement in 1973. taught. In 1980 he was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame.

When Clyde Tombaugh died in 1997, his remains were cremated and stored in a small canister that was placed on the spacecraft New Horizons before detonating off Cape Canaveral, Florida in early 2006 , as far as the mission of collecting data to the shore. Solar System, three billion miles away. In 2015 the remnants of Tombaugh left behind Pluto.

So is Pluto even a planet?

When Tombaugh identified Pluto, it was considered a planet by the scientific community, but in 2006, the International Astronomical Union set a new circumference by which to define celestial bodies. The new definition of a planet requires an orbit of the Sun, enough gravitational mass to form a spherical shape, and enough gravitational pull to empty its orbit. Pluto met the first two requirements but failed the third, so it was demoted to a dwarf planet.

This might upset him a bit, but just because Pluto is no longer a planet doesn't mean Tombaugh's identity wasn't important. Today's astronomers credit Tombaugh with "opening the door to the third region" of the Milky Way, specifically the vast Kuiper Belt, a band that includes thousands of asteroids, dwarf planets, comets and exoplanets beyond Neptune.

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