Interview With Clyde Tombaugh

A Kudzufiles exclusive – you won’t see this anywhere else. Following the news that Pluto had been demoted, I interviewed Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of the ninth planet, which we now know he didn’t discover.

KF: Mr. Tombaugh, I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the International Astronomical Union has decided that Pluto, which you discovered in 1930, is not a planet after all, but is just a “dwarf planet”. How does that make you feel?

CT: Well, I’m sure they had their reasons. I’m sure they gave the matter very serious deliberation, before deciding they way they did.

KF: Would you have preferred that instead of removing Pluto’s status as a planet, the IAU had instead decided to add Ceres, Charon, and 2003UB313 as planets?

CT: Well, Ceres is only half the size of Pluto; I’m not sure it should have been inlcuded. And Charon revolves around Pluto, how could it be a planet? 2003UB313, that’s what messed up the whole thing. Pluto was fine, sitting out past Neptune, most of the time anyway, not bothering anybody. It gave a sense of closure, the period at the end of the solar system. Now what? We’re supposed to see Neptune as the last stop on the solar trolley? It just doesn’t seem proper. I found Pluto because calculations showed that Neptune was being influenced by something further out!

KF: But astronomers now say that those calculations were in error, because the mass of Neptune was incorrect. Voyager 2 showed us that. Using the correct mass for Neptune, there are no orbital disturbances.

CT: They can say that. But if it was an error, how did I find an orbiting object right where it should have been? What are the chances that it was just coincidentally where it was? Percival Lowell was a pretty smart man, and he nailed it’s position.

KF: Well, he expected it to be much bigger.

CT: Bigger, schmigger, It was there, man!

KF: Your wife Patricia said today that if you were still alive, you would understand and accept what they did.

CT: Patricia didn’t sit up all those nights looking at photographic plates! DO YOU KNOW HOW COLD IT CAN BE IN FLAGSTAFF IN FEBRUARY, AT NIGHT??

KF: She said “Clyde would have said, ‘Science is a progressive thing and if you’re going to be a scientist and put your neck out, you’re apt to have it bitten upon'”

CT: Back and forth, back and forth, over and over. None of these little jerks were there. What the hell do they know? Most of them never even look through a telescope, just sit in front of computers in nice warm rooms. Pluto was mine!

KF: You seem upset by all this.

CT: Well how would Newton feel if somebody just decided gravity didn’t exist? This was what I was known for. Nobody cares about asteroids, and that’s basically what they’re saying Pluto is. I found fourteen asteroids, does anybody remember me for that? No! Pluto. Pluto was what I did. Now what will they say on Wikipedia? That Clyde Tombaugh discovered fifteen asteroids? Did I mention it was cold? Back and forth, over and over?

KF: Do you have any final thoughts?

CT: Damn that 2003UB313.

August 24, 2006 В· Harry В· No Comments
Posted in: Stargazing

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