Clyde Tombaugh Biography

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Clyde W. Tombaugh was born in 1906 in Streator, Illinois. He attended high school in Streator and moved with his family to a farm in Western Kansas, where a hailstorm destroyed the family 's crops, dashing his hopes of attending college. Tombaugh continued to study on his own, teaching himself solid geometry and trigonometry.

In 1926, at the age of 20, Tombaugh built his first telescope. Dissatisfied with the result, he determined to master optics, and built two more telescopes in the next two years, grinding his own lenses and mirrors, and further honing his skills.

Clyde Tombaugh Biography Photo Using these homemade telescope, he made drawings of the planets Mars and Jupiter and sent them to the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.
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The young astronomer earned a permanent place in the history of science when he discovered the planet Pluto on February 18, 1930. Pluto orbit lies 3 billion miles from the sun; it takes Pluto two and a half earthly centuries to complete a single orbit around the sun. Seen from Pluto, the sun appears merely as one bright star among many. Pluto 's moon, Charon, is nearly half the size of the planet itself and orbits Pluto once in every 6.4 Earth days. From Pluto, Charon appears eight times larger than our moon appears from the Earth.

Clyde Tombaugh Biography Photo In 1932 he entered the University of Kansas where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1936. He continued to work at Lowell Observatory during the summers and after graduation he returned to work at the Observatory full-time. In 1938, he received his master 's degree from the University of Kansas.

During his years at Lowell Observatory, Tombaugh discovered hundreds of new variable stars, hundreds of new asteroids and two comets. He found new star clusters, clusters of galaxies including one super cluster of galaxies. In all, he counted over 29,000 galaxies. Tombaugh remained at Lowell until he was called to service during World War II. The astronomer taught navigation to the U.S. Navy at Arizona State College in Flagstaff from 1943 to

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