A Day in Astronomy: Discovery of Pluto

Image (Credit): The dwarf planet Pluto. (NASA)

On this day in 1930, Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto. The 23-year old astronomer was working for the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona at the time of his discovery.

Pluto, recognized as the ninth planet in our solar system, was demoted to a dwarf planet in 2006 since it was one of many such objects in the Kuiper Belt and did not meet the definition of a planet.

When NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft visited Pluto in 2015, it was carrying some of Clyde Tombaugh’s ashes. The canister with the ashes had the following inscription:

Interned herein are remains of American Clyde W. Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto and the solar system’s “third zone.” Adelle and Muron’s boy, Patricia’s husband, Annette and Alden’s father, astronomer, teacher, punster, and friend: Clyde W. Tombaugh (1906-1997).

You can learn a number of interesting facts about Pluto here.