Today is Clyde Tombaugh's 107th birth anniversary. Born in 1906 , he was an American astronomer, rocket scientist and telescope builder. He relished celestial exploration, technical tinkering and word games. In fact he was an accomplished punster. His most important contribution to science is discovering Pluto, such a groundbreaking achievement that he tried to close the book on identifying planets in our solar system. Luckily, other scientists disagreed and new techniques and equipment proved Tombaugh wrong within a year after his death. Not only do we know of planet-like objects beyond Pluto but we no longer ‘classify’ Pluto as a planet!
The Mars rover Opportunity begins its 10th year of operation and Curiosity is just about to go to the next level by drilling into a rock to identify light-colored mineral veins deposited by water millions of years ago.
This week in the night sky look for a bright Mercury and a subdued Mars.
Photo credit: NASA