Thrill of lifetime for Clyde Tombaugh

Friday, March 14, 1930

(Note: Following was written for The Associated Press by Clyde Tombaugh of the Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Ariz., who was the first man to see the new trans-Neptunian planet)

Flagstaff, Ariz. — "How would you feel If you saw a new world giving you the high sign from beyond the rim of the solar system? That is what happened to me in the dark room when I was running another bunch of photo plates through the machine.

"Just a strange flicker of starlight in a routine day's work.

"Excited? I should say so. That is no word for it. I just didn't know what to do or think, or how to act.

"Sure, I was the first to see it, But the whole Lowell staff has been working on it for a quarter of century. I was just lucky. That was all there was to it.

Others Not Excited.

"And what did the others say when I called them in to see it - well, you know how these astronomers are. They are used to thinking In terms of millions of years and millions of miles. They weren't excited. They said it might possibly be the lurking Lowell planet but they would have to watch it further to check it with data they had been gathering so long.

"This happened January 21, and we have all been working on it ever since. Only last night did they feel sure enough about it to make an announcement — and even yet, there might be a mistake — but we don't think so.

"You know I am not a real astronomer — guess you couldn't call me one at all. I'm just interested in stars and have hccn all my life. When I was a kid back on the farm in Kansas an uncle used to tell me about the stars. Then I got all the books about stars and the skies I could find.

"One told me how to make a telescope. During the long winter months when we were snowed in I monkeyed around with astronomlcal things. I even made a rude telescope, grinding my own lenses from directions out of this book.

Fulfills Sister's Prophesy.

"I guess my kid sister sized me up right in the high school prophesy at Burdett, Kan., for she had me discovering a new world.

"One day last fall I just decided I was going to do what I wanted to do most in the world. I had always been interested in Lowell observatory at Flagstaff. I had read a lot about what they hnd done there. So I Just wrote to Dr. Silpher and asked for a job, telling him I would do any kind of work. And they put me to work on the dome in which I later took the picture which revealed this new planet.

"I guess I'll Just keep on taking pictures of stars. That Is what Ilike to do. I am studying Mars and the moon now. There is enough here to keep me busy for a long time.