Today in history: Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovers Pluto on February 18, 1930.
In 1930, the young Tombaugh was working as a researcher at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, tasked with performing a systematic sky search for the theoretical Planet X, a mysterious trans-Neptunian object predicted by Percival Lowell and William Pickering. Using a 13-inch astrograph to snap photos of the same section of sky on different nights, Tombaugh used a “blink comparator" to match up the different images. When he toggled between the photographs, he noticed that a moving object (a planet, perhaps?) appeared to jump from one part of the sky to another while more distant celestial bodies seemingly stayed in the same place. This moving object, in a region predicted by Lowell, was observed to have an orbit beyond Neptune, ruling out its classification as an asteroid. Hence, it was determined to be the ninth planet — Pluto!! And so our stellar neighborhood (aka, the Solar System) got a little bigger. Decades later in 2006, the party poopers at the International Astronomical Union downgraded Pluto from “planet” to “dwarf planet.” Bummer!
Bonus fun fact: After Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in astronomy from the University of Kansas in 1936 and 1938. One can assume his college application was pretty impressive. When was the last time you discovered a planet?
Spooky fact: there is at least one living skeleton in your house right now and it is VERY close. GET OUT OF THERE
I SAID RUN NOT HAVE SEX WITH IT
i did NOT have sexual relations with that skeleton