Pluto and Clyde Tombaugh are both interesting stories. Pluto, of course, used to be somebody, a planet. It was recently downgraded amid much and continuing controversy to a dwarf planet. Protests, petitions, yadda yadda. We’ll see.
Clyde Tombaugh’s story, however, is pretty well settled. He was born in Illinois in 1906. When he was 16, his farming family moved to Kansas. Clyde was interested in the stars, very interested. And of course was counting on going to college. Alas, a hail stormed killed that deal. So he followed the path of a serious amateur, farm chores during the day, reading and observing at night.
But he got frustrated with store-bought telescopes of the time and decided to build his own, an 8” Newtonian, out of the crankshaft of a 1910 Buick and a cream separator, grinding the mirrors himself. With that he zeroed in on Jupiter and Mars and sent his observations in to the Lowell Observatory asking for feedback to help him be...