Did you know that Clyde Tombaugh was born today in 1906? He was an astronomer best known for discovering the planet Pluto. When he was a teenager, Tombaugh’s plans for college were wrecked when a hailstorm destroyed the crops on his family’s farm. While continuing to work at the farm, Tombaugh built his own telescopes and made observations of planets. He sent his drawings to the Lowell Observatory, hoping for some suggestions on to improve his personal studies. Instead, the observatory sent back a job offer to help find “Planet X”. In addition to finding Pluto, during his life Tombaugh also found 15 asteroids, a comet, hundreds of variable stars, star clusters, and galaxies.
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During his life Clyde Tombaugh built more than 30 telescopes. For some he ground the mirrors himself. Others were made from old car parts.
Clyde Tombaugh worked for the Lowell Observatory from 1929-1945. During that time, he reviewed more than 90 million star images while looking for planets and other celestial objects.
After discovering Pluto, Clyde Tombaugh earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Astronomy from the University of Kansas.
Clyde Tombaugh taught astronomy at New Mexico State University. He also taught navigation during World War II.
Clyde Tombaugh passed away on January 17, 1997. Later, some of his ashes were sent with New Horizons as it travelled to Pluto and beyond.