Saturday, March 17, 2007

Pluto Still a Planet for New Mexicans?

Photo courtesy of

Rest easy Pluto fans! The New Mexico legislature this week declared that Pluto would be designated a planet whenever it "passes overhead through New Mexico's excellent night skies." The perfect blend of astronomy and tourism....

As it turns out, Clyde Tombaugh, the first identifier of Pluto in 1930, was a New Mexico resident, so this is a bit of a memorial to him. The still-feisty Mrs. Tombaugh, his 94-year-old widow, says that scientists' minds won't be changed by this but "it's a very nice gesture".


Anonymous said...

not sure how to blog, but hello its me Leslie. Myles gave me this blog so thought I would try. Now I know someone in Santa Fe, always wanted to visit. My email Love your picture you look great

Brother Rick said...

Tombaugh was a pretty feisty character himself. In 1928, while working on his father’s farm in Kansas, he built a telescope using parts from a cream separator and his dad’s 1910 Buick. He made drawings of the planets and sent them to the Lowell Observatory in Arizona. Even though he had only a high school degree, the observatory offered him a job.

After discovering Pluto in 1930, Tombaugh went on to get a Phd., and work for the space program When he was in his 80’s, the Smithsonian asked him if they could have his original telescope. Tombaugh’s answer: “I told them I was still using it."

And how do I know all this? Because I included Tombaugh’s story in my book The Greatest Stories Never Told. And of course I couldn’t pass up this wonderful opportunity for self promotion.