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Author Topic: Ich will Pluto!  (Read 2297 times)

ama

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Ich will Pluto!
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2006, 10:44:14 PM »

« Last Edit: September 02, 2006, 10:45:22 PM by ama »
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ama

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Ich will Pluto!
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2007, 04:02:19 AM »

http://web.archive.org/web/20000819002255/http://www.goodbyemag.com/jan97/tombaugh.html

[*QUOTE*]
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Clyde Tombaugh, Kansan who Found 'X'

Discovering the Planet X was a tedious business. But Clyde Tombaugh,
intrepid Kansan, was up to the job. Scanning the chilly New Mexico skies
by night, then poring over the images of millions of stars on photographic
plates by day, he found the planet he named Pluto in 1930.
Lacking even a college education, he succeeded where others had failed.

The story is a piece of down-home American can-do.

Tombaugh grew up on a farm in western Kansas. (The Kansas state motto is
“To the Stars Through Difficulties”.) Inspired by science books and
articles, he fashioned a telescope out of home-ground lenses and
dilapidated farm machinery, including the crankshaft from his father’s
1910 Buick.

On the basis of drawings he made of Mars and Jupiter, he was invited in
1929 to work at the newly-built Lowell Observatory at Flagstaff, AZ. When
he left home his father advised him, “Clyde, make yourself useful and
beware of easy women.”

The Lowell Observatory was named after its benefactor, Percival Lowell,
who died in 1916. A decade of challenges to his will delayed construction
of the telescope. Lowell was somewhere in between a scientific visionary
and a crank. It was Lowell who had popularized the notion of canals on
Mars, postulating an advanced civilization on the red planet whose
hydrodynamic wonders dwarfed anything the Egyptians, Chinese, or Kansans
had achieved.

Through minute observations of the perturbations of Uranus and Neptune,
Lowell had predicted the existence of a ninth planet, which he
provisionally dubbed “Planet X.” Years of search yielded naught, and
Lowell died a discouraged man.

Tombaugh arrived at the Lowell Observatory in 1929 and was put to work
“flashing” photographicplates–systematically comparing images taken on
successive nights in which a planet would appear as a moving point of
light against the background of immobile stars.

The work was dull and gruelling–Tombaugh estimated that he viewed 90
million stars before finding the rogue star that spelled success. Along
the way he catalogued 29,548 galaxies, 1,807 variable stars, and 775 new
asteroids. “There are 15 million stars in the sky as bright as Pluto,” he
said. “I had to pick one out of 15 million.” Few men have observed so much
of the galaxy.

When he made the discovery, Tombaugh recalled, “It electrified me. I
realized I’d be world famous and turn the scientific world upside down.”
The discovery was a sensation. It was the only planet ever discovered by
an American. But Tombaugh never really became world famous. After his
discovery, however, he was given a raise of $10 a week, not an
inconsiderable sum at the height of the depression.

Naming the new planet, the discoverer’s prerogative, proved tricky. Such
mythological figures as Minerva and Cronus were considered. Zeus had been
Lowell’s favorite. Lowell’s widow Constance at first wanted the planet
named Lowell, then changed her mind and asked that the planet be named for
herself. (This suggestion infuriated Tombaugh; Constance Lowell had held
up the execution of Lowell’s will for years.)

Suggestions came in from around the world, and an 11-year-old from England
named Venetia Burney was the first to suggest Pluto. It was perhaps not
accidental that the planet’s symbol became a combined PL icon, the
initials of Percival Lowell. The only objection to the name was on account
of a popular laxative of the day, “Pluto Water.”

On the strength of his discovery Tombaugh received a scholarship to
college and went on to a doctorate in Astronomy. His career was spent in
a workman-like search for planets and asteroids, with a hiatus in the 40s
as a missile engineer. He ended up as head of the Astronomy department
at New Mexico State University.

Because of the limitations of telescopes, little more was learned of Pluto
until the 70s. Pluto is about three billion miles from the sun and takes
248 years to complete its orbit. The orbit is eccentric, and at the moment
it is closer to the sun than Neptune. It is about the size of the United
States, with a diameter about 1/3 that of the Earth’s.

In 1978 a satellite was discovered and named Charon. Pluto and Charon have
a combined mass approximately 1/400th that of the Earth’s. A robotic
reconnaissance mission to the planet is planned by NASA for the first
years of the next millennium.

Controversies continue to dog the planet. Pluto’s small size is thought to
be too little to account for Lowell’s perturbative observations, so it is
suspected that another planet may lie at the solar system’s fringes. Some
astronomers doubt that Pluto is a planet at all, preferring to regard it
as a part of a vast belt of cometoids hypothesized to surround the solar
system.

Tombaugh regarded such speculation as “a bunch of nonsense.”

Clyde Tombaugh died January 12 [1997], nearly 66 years to the day from
his discovery.
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[*/QUOTE*]


Leider ist das Magazin verschollen. In Memoriam Goodbyemag:

http://web.archive.org/web/*sr_1nr_10000/http://www.goodbyemag.com/*


[URL gerettet, OM]
« Last Edit: March 02, 2018, 10:26:01 PM by Omegafant »
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Omegafant

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Steine kann man nicht essen!
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