Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I think for most of us, our parents are representative of our heroes. Then there are those people beyond our immediate family we look upon that have had some influence on us in some fashion, usually a deep seated influence that has shaped or directed our lives in some way.

For me, that would be Clyde Tombaugh.

Back in 1961 I remember my dad coming home from work, announcing that Echo 1 was to fly over that night. We gathered in the back yard up on Elm Street and watched. A slow moving speck of light, barely visible. I loved it and was hooked. I had a sudden interest in astronomy.

Then my parents bought a book for me. THE SEARCH FOR PLANET X by Tony Simon (Scholastic 1965). It was the story of Clyde Tombaugh and his discovery of Pluto. I was hooked. I set out to become an astronomer, and I wanted to work at the same place that Clyde Tombaugh worked. Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Time and distance and fortune changed things. Instead of an astronomer, I became an archaeologist. But I never lost that love for astronomy. I’m still fascinated by it. And although I never got to work at the Lowell Observatory, I was able to pay a couple of visits to that hallowed ground.

Clyde Tombaugh, a hero of mine, and thanks to Clyde for a lifelong love of astronomy.

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