Discovery of Pluto: 85-years on

BY MATTHEW COLLINS - FEBRUARY 18, 2015

On this day, 85-years ago, the planet of Pluto was discovered by astronomer, Clyde W. Tombaugh, at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Years before its discovery, the planet was already believed to have existed. It was termed “planet X”. However, “planet X” would remain illusory for many years to come, until Tombaugh would lay claim to its discovery.

Pluto, with its well-below freezing temperatures, was named after the relevant god from Greek mythology – Pluto, the leader of the underworld.

Image of Pluto by the Hubble Space Telescope.  Image courtesy of: bcnn1wp.wordpress.com

 

Pluto was, for the vast majority of its life, considered to be a major planet – the ninth within our solar system. It was a belief that made its way into the minds of many people in the past, and possibly still to this day, with countless school-lessons, at the lowest levels, once teaching such “facts”.

However, as of 2006, the icy-sphere was reclassified as a “dwarf planet” by the International Astronomical Union; a reclassification which is now generally accepted.

As this article is being written, the NASA New Horizons space-probe, having been launched from earth in 2006, is shooting towards the freezing entity and should be arriving at the dwarf planet in July, 2015. 

Artist's impression of the New Horizons Space Probe.  Image courtesy of: solarviews.com

 

Caption (Main Image): Clyde W. Tombaugh.  Image courtesy of: www.ufoevidence.org