Streator celebrates hometown hero, Pluto discoverer

SHARE Streator celebrates hometown hero, Pluto discoverer

Pluto is the only planet (OK, now former planet) in our solar system discovered by an American. Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh spotted the dot in 1930 from Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. The name Pluto came from a British schoolgirl, Venetia Burney, then 11, based on the mythological god of the underworld.

Tombaugh died at age 90 in 1997, nine years before New Horizons took flight. A smidgen of his ashes was on board as the probe streaked by Pluto in its historic fly-by on Tuesday.

Burney died in 2009, also at age 90. A student-built dust counter aboard New Horizons — from the University of Colorado at Boulder — is named after her.

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In this 1931 file photo, Clyde Tombaugh poses with the telescope through which he discovered the Pluto at the Lowell Observatory on Observatory Hill in Flagstaff, Ariz. | Sun-Times file

FROM THE ARCHIVES Meet the Illinois farm boy who discovered a planet

Associated Press contributed to this story.

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