Fun Fact February 18, 2021.
18 February 2021
It was on this date in 1930 that Clyde W. Tombaugh made a name for himself. From the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, Tombaugh, using information from observations by Percival Lowell finished a ten year search for the ninth planet in our solar system. That’s right, Tombaugh discovered that Pluto was in fact the most distant planet in our solar system. How distant? Well on average Pluto is about 4 billion miles away from the sun. You have to average it out because Pluto’s orbit is an oval shape. It takes about 248 Earth years for Pluto to make one rotation around the sun. Fast forward to 2006 when the international Astronomical Union announced that Pluto would no longer be considered a planet, due to new rules that said planets must “clear the neighborhood around its orbit.” Since Pluto’s oblong orbit overlaps that of Neptune, it was disqualified. For a while poor Pluto wasn’t a planet at all, then it was redefined as a dwarf planet, one of several in the outer bans of The Milky Way. In terms of size, Pluto is about half the width of the United States. The Disney cartoon character, you know Mickey’s dog, debuted in 1930, shortly after Tombaugh’s discovery. Walt named the dog Pluto. Coincidence? I don’t think so.