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Clyde tombaugh: from the farm to fame

Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto when he was 24 years old, and his position as staff assistant at the Lowell Observatory was his first paying job. Tombaugh had been born on a farm in Illinois, but when he was 16, his family moved to Kansas. There, with his uncle’s encouragement, he observed the sky through a telescope the family had ordered from the Sears catalog. Tombaugh later constructed a larger telescope on his own and devoted his nights (when he wasn’t too tired from farm work) to making detailed sketches of the planets ( [link] ).

Clyde tombaugh (1906–1997).

Image A is of Clyde Tombaugh standing next to a telescope a few feet taller than himself. Image B is of Clyde Tombaugh looking through the eyepiece of a telescope.
(a) Tombaugh is pictured on his family farm in 1928 with a 9-inch telescope he built. (b) Here Tombaugh is looking through an eyepiece at the Lowell Observatory. (credit b: modification of work by NASA)

In 1928, after a hailstorm ruined the crop, Tombaugh decided he needed a job to help support his family. Although he had only a high school education, he thought of becoming a telescope builder. He sent his planet sketches to the Lowell Observatory, seeking advice about whether such a career choice was realistic. By a wonderful twist of fate, his query arrived just when the Lowell astronomers realized that a renewed search for a ninth planet would require a very patient and dedicated observer.

The large photographic plates (pieces of glass with photographic emulsion on them) that Tombaugh was hired to take at night and search during the day contained an average of about 160,000 star images each. How to find Pluto among them? The technique involved taking two photographs about a week apart. During that week, a planet would move a tiny bit, while the stars remained in the same place relative to each other. A new instrument called a “blink comparator” could quickly alternate the two images in an eyepiece. The stars, being in the same position on the two plates, would not appear to change as the two images were “blinked.” But a moving object would appear to wiggle back and forth as the plates were alternated.

After examining more than 2 million stars (and many false alarms), Tombaugh found his planet on February 18, 1930. The astronomers at the observatory checked his results carefully, and the find was announced on March 13, the 149th anniversary of the discovery of Uranus. Congratulations and requests for interviews poured in from around the world. Visitors descended on the observatory in scores, wanting to see the place where the first new planet in almost a century had been discovered, as well as the person who had discovered it.

In 1932, Tombaugh took leave from Lowell, where he had continued to search and blink, to get a college degree. Eventually, he received a master’s degree in astronomy and taught navigation for the Navy during World War II. In 1955, after working to develop a rocket-tracking telescope, he became a professor at New Mexico State University, where he helped found the astronomy department. He died in 1997; some of his ashes were placed inside the New Horizons spacecraft to Pluto.

Questions & Answers

what is the model about the earth being the center of the universe called?
Lordgy Reply
geocentric model
SCIENCE
I hope you got your answer.
SCIENCE
heliocentric universe
Jason
you are wrong Jason skerbinc
SCIENCE
in heliocentric model sun is at the center of the universe
Tanmay
what is black hole and stellar black hole
azeb Reply
does Millikan consider electron axial spin in his discovery of electrons mass using q/m ratio ? If No how it is possible that he found rest mass of electron (9×10^31 Kg) ?
Anurag Reply
how did light from up
Sourav Reply
Before there stars , there was matter and radiation . Before there were neutral atoms ,there was an ionized plasma ,and when that plasma froms neutral atoms , those allow the Universe to deliver the earliest light we see today .......
Apsara
how to know the distance of a star
Sourav Reply
What is time
Sourav
Technical Infinite Measurement of Evolution
Doc
not by the book but the simplicity of word play ....
Doc
to calculate the distance of a star we use parallax method (as far as my school has taught me).
Tanmay
in this method we see the star from one point and then after traveling some distance perpendicular to the distance of star we see it again. With this we can make a triangle and then it's median will give our distance
Tanmay
And time is just a way of defining when an event happened
Tanmay
oh and we will know the distance of all the 3 sides of triangle formed above if we multiply the time taken by light with speed of light and the third side will be known to us as it is dependent on our will
Tanmay
what are wormholes?
facty Reply
Holes made by worms
Neil
What is the difference between black hole and white hole ?
Apsara
black hole is the place where the massive body makes a large disturbance in space time fabric causing large gravity even light can't escape from it and all the bodies enter into on reaching a specific distance.
SCIENCE
A white hole is a hypothetical region of spacetime and singularity which cannot be entered from the outside, although energy-matter and light can escape from it. In this sense, it is the reverse of a black hole, which can be entered only from the outside and from which energy-matter and light can
SCIENCE
White holes appear in the theory of eternal black holes
SCIENCE
worm holes join 2 distant region of spacetime through which you can travel, covering large distance in short time
Tanmay
for example if you need to travel from A to B on a plane of paper then you can travel in a straight line joining those points but a worm hole will join those points using 3rd dimention which will make you travel that distance in short time
Tanmay
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zin Reply
No
Astrophysicist
Hello : I'm Kyaw Nyein Chan
zin
Hi I'm Kyaw Nyein Chan
zin Reply
Hello : good moring, I'm Kyaw Nyein Chan
zin Reply
hello good morning
Astrophysicist
good morning bro
Tanmay
how do you do?
Astrophysicist
I am fine what about you?
Tanmay
same as you
Astrophysicist
cool
Tanmay
How the Big Bang is made .
Apsara Reply
Kyaw Nyein Chan
zin
What is heliocentric
Apsara Reply
helio is from the greek god helios or ilios and means sun. Centric is from central. So heliocentric means with the sun in the middle
Robin
Usually in the context of astronomy its about the moment the world goes from the idea of 'earth in the middle of the solar system' to the idea that the sun is in the center of the solar system
Robin
so from a geocentric (geo meaning earth) to a heliocentric idea
Robin
yes correct this theory states that sun is in the middle of the solar system rather than earth
Tanmay
oh you have already said this
Tanmay
Hello: good afternoon
zin
hello
Tanmay
Thankyou to all to solve my doubt . I don't know more about the solar system beacause i am a small little girl my old is 9 and i love science but i am trying to learn more about science .
Apsara
that's great you should definitely check science in a nutshell YouTube channel it will provide you with good information
Tanmay
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Tanmay
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Tanmay
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Tanmay
You not alone Apsara I'm 14 but know little about the universe
Swazi
what is solar system
Himanshi
what do you mean by astronomy
Himanshi
astronomy is a study of planetary science.
Enceladus
Astronomy is a branch of Physics that deals with the study of celestial bodies.
Satyam
An astronomy is a scientist in the field of astronomy who focuses their studies on a specific questions or field outside the scope of Earth 🌍🌎🌏 . They observe astronomical objects such as star's , planets , moon , comets and galaxies - in either observational (by analyzing the data)
Apsara
what is the difference between astronomy and cosmology
Astrophysicist
The collection of eight planets and their moon's in orbit around the Sun , together with smaller bodies in the form of asteroids , meteoroids and comets . The planet of the solar system are ( in order of distance from the sun ) Mercury , Venues , Earth ,Mass , Jupiter , Sartune ,Uranus , Neptune .
Apsara
In Astronomy, we study about celestial objects but in cosmology we study the origin and the formation of universe.
Satyam
how much temperature were can find on neptune
Ayyan Reply
the temperature is between -200 to -218 degree Celsius
Tanmay
how can I apply online astronomy course ? if you have link send it.
Dawit Reply
what is astronomy
Khanyisa
Does any body know about Quantum Battery ?
Yabtsega Reply
yea I tell you briefly callme
Eyiba
How to get into the field of astronomy after completing B.tech in department of ECE?
Lakshmi Reply
Well my option is to do your job while getting a distant education from a reptued university for B.Sc and try for M.Sc in IIA and remaining astrophysics universities in india
Mahesh
Do I require GATE score for that?
Lakshmi
Yeah I meañ get a better score in gate.I think the university considers it and would help you to direct enroll into a masters progarmme
Mahesh
But the score should be good.
Mahesh
okay. I will do my best.
Lakshmi
Thank you
Lakshmi
hi guys I am from Ethiopia.I don't know detailedly about astronomy and I want to be astronaut .can you help me guys?
Dawit
I know that astronauts have to be physically fit
Tanmay
I don't know anything else though
Tanmay
If you want to be a astronaut you should complete medicine.
Mahesh
I had done by my b.tech ece long back and then I started doing job...but I still want to switch my field to astronomy, I m confused how shall I pursue it..
Shina
what should we pursue after 12th std B.Sc program and further or through engineering?
Ganesh
Maybe you should ask this question in quora.Professors will tell you answer to the question.
Mahesh
ok
Ganesh

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Source:  OpenStax, Astronomy. OpenStax CNX. Apr 12, 2017 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11992/1.13
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