Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Did You Know Tuesday

Did you know that Pluto was discovered by an American by the name of Clyde Tombaugh? He was working at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ when he discovered the planet on February 18, 1930.

Pluto’s status as a planet was taken away in 2006 when there were objects discovered in the Kuiper Belt (the belt of debris circling the edge of the solar system made up of the remnants from the formation of our star system) that were larger than Pluto, and thus the former planet was re-dubbed as a planetoid by the International Astronomical Union.

photo from http://inklake.typepad.com

Tombaugh was the only American to have discovered one of the planetary bodies in our system, so the demotion of Pluto was a bit of bummer in that sense.

Currently, the New Horizons spacecraft is on its way to Pluto. Launched in 2006, the craft will take nine years to make the journey and is already past its halfway point of the voyage. It travels more than 750,000 miles a day. This is the first spacecraft that has been sent to study Pluto. It’s location can be tracked here as it begins to near the orbit of Uranus on its way to a 2015 rendezvous with Pluto. Also, it should be noted that NASA included some of Clyde Tombaugh's ashes within the craft, so he is on his way to the object he discovered. Clyde passed in 1997.

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