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Astronomy Beat

Exclusive ASP Membership Benefit

Astronomy Beat is a monthly, on-line column written by “insiders” from the worlds of astronomy research and outreach.

Current issue: March 27, 2015

The Discovery of Pluto: Generally Unknown Aspects of the Story

by Clyde Tombaugh (1906–1997)
[excerpts from a longer article written for the ASP's Mercury magazine in 1986]

NASA’s New Horizons mission was launched from Cape Canaveral on January 19, 2006, sending a probe on a nine-year journey to distant Pluto. New Horizons is just a few months away from its closest approach to Pluto. It carries on board the ashes of its discoverer, Clyde Tombaugh, who first detected Pluto using a telescope at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona in 1930. We are pleased to reprint a 2009 Astronomy Beat article by Tombaugh describing what it had been like for him to discover one of the Solar System’s most mysterious objects.

ASP members can access Astronomy Beat through the ASP’s online portal. Not a member? Join today.

In 2014, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific celebrates its 125th anniversary year of communicating and educating about the universe around us. But back in 1889, the universe seemed a very different place–simpler, but perhaps no less mysterious. Jim Manning, departing executive director, takes a long moment to look the state of astronomy and the cosmos at the time of the Society’s founding, and how things have changed since then in the February 2014 issue of Astronomy Beat. Join him for a peek at the universe “125 years ago today.”

With our compliments, please enjoy the June 2013 issue of Astronomy Beat featuring Nancy Roman, an early pioneer in paving the way for female scientists at NASA. Among other accomplishments, and because of her tireless efforts in support of a space-based observatory, Nancy Roman is often considered the “mother” of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Download the following sample Astronomy Beat columns FREE to see what the series is like.

The Discovery of Pluto
by Clyde Tombaugh

The Discovery of the First Gravitational Lenses
by Ray Weymann

Origins of the Drake Equation
by Frank Drake and Dava Sobel

Stargazing Centaurs: The Astronomy of Harry Potter
by Kristine Larsen

And the Sun Stood Still: Dramatizing Copernicus
by Dava Sobel

How to Catch a Moon or Two of Pluto
by Mark R. Showalter