Clyde Tombaugh, US astronomer

Clyde Tombaugh, US astronomer


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Clyde Tombaugh (1906-1997), US astronomer, standing next to the 16 inch telescope he built himself in the 1950s. Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930, couldn't afford to study at college, but became an assistant at Lowell Observatory in 1929. Lowell himself predicted the existence of a ninth planet, and a team was set up to find it. Tombaugh invented the blink comparator to facilitate the search. This device allowed comparison of two photographs of the sky, which showed if any object had altered position. After 7000 hours of work, he found a tiny object outside the orbit of Neptune, which was named Pluto. In the course of his searches, he also discovered some 3000 asteroids.

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