On February 18, 1930, Pluto was discovered by amateur astronomer Clyde Tombaugh. Tombaugh was a citizen scientist – an amateur astronomer and telescope maker  – who was hired by Lowell Observatory to search for a predicted but undiscovered planet beyond the orbit of Pluto.

Although Pluto’s planet status was controversially revoked by the International Astronomical Union in 2006, the discovery of Pluto remains a powerful and convincing argument for the value of citizen science in training researchers.

One way to honor Pluto’s birthday is to watch “The Pluto Files,” a PBS documentary with Neil deGrasse Tyson. You can buy the DVD or watch for free online at www.pbs.org. Better yet, you can joint IceHunters and help search for Kuiper-belt objects like Pluto in images taken by the 8-meter Subaru telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii and the 6.5-meter Magellan telescope in Chile.

Written by Astro1 on February 19th, 2012 , Astronomy, Citizen Science (General) Tags:

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