Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
He made the discovery at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, during a systematic search for a trans-Neptunian planet (also called Planet X), which had been predicted by Percival Lowell and William Pickering. Pluto is named after the Roman god of the underworld, who was able to render himself invisible, and in honor of Lowell.
Tombaugh's discovery involved painstaking use of a blink comparator — a device which allows someone to compare two similar photographs by placing them in the viewer's field of vision, and then letting the user switch back and forth — blink — between the two. Tombaugh used the blink comparator to compare photographs of sections of sky taken several nights apart. A moving object, such as a planet, would appear to jump from one position to another while the more distant objects, such as stars, would appear stationary. Tombaugh noticed such a moving object in his search, and subsequent observations showed it to be the planet we call Pluto. The discovery was made on February 18, 1930, using images taken in January of the same year.
Tombaugh was born in Streator, Illinois. After his family moved to Burdett, Kansas, Tombaugh built his first telescope and sent drawings of his observations of Jupiter and Mars to the Lowell Observatory. These resulted in a job offer. Tombaugh was employed at the Lowell Observatory from 1929 to 1945. Following his discovery of Pluto, Tombaugh earned astronomy degrees from the University of Kansas and Northern Arizona University. He taught astronomy at New Mexico State University from 1955 until his retirement.
The asteroid 1604 Tombaugh 1, discovered in 1931, is named after him. He himself discovered 14 asteroids, beginning with 2839 Annette in 1929, mostly as a by-product of his search for Pluto and his further searches for other planets.
In 1949, Tombaugh saw several Unidentified Flying Objects near Las Cruces, New Mexico. He described them as six to eight rectangular lights, stating "I doubt that the phenomenon was any terrestrial reflection, because... nothing of the kind has ever appeared before or since... I was so unprepared for such a strange sight that I was really petrified with astonishment." 
|2839 Annette||October 5 1929|
|2941 Alden||December 24 1930|
|3310 Patsy||October 9 1931|
|3583 Burdett||October 5 1929|
|3754 Kathleen||March 16 1931|
|3775 Ellenbeth||October 6 1931|
|3824 Brendalee||October 5 1929|
|4510 Shawna||December 13 1930|
|4755 Nicky||October 6 1931|
|5701 1929 VS||October 26 1929|
|6618 1936 SO||September 16 1936|
|7101 1930 UX||October 17 1930|
|7150 1929 TD1||October 11 1929|
|8778 1931 TD3||October 10 1931|
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details