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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    The Great Midwest, Illinois to be precise
    Posts
    527

    Default Big Party This Weekend in Streator, Ill.

    This celebration is to honor Clyde Tombaugh and will be called the "Pluto Expo". It will be held both today and tomorrow.

    Using those clues, do we have any guesses as to what this is all about before you scroll down a bit?


    No it's not the funny dog of Mickey Mouse.


    Streator is just a bit incensed that their favorite son's greatest discovery, the planet Pluto, has been downgraded to a dwarf planet, not worthy of being ranked with the other eight. There is hope that this celebration might restore Pluto to its former glory.

    Times have been tough on Streator, pop. 14, 190. At one time it was a regular boomtown with coal coming from the mines and also there was a claim that more glass bottles were made there than anywhere else in the world. That all ran out and, today, Main Street has a lot of boarded-up windows. However, a new tourism center has recently opened.

    Clyde Tombaugh had an interesting history. He was born in 1906 and spent his youth in a nearby farm. He really did ride his bike 14 miles a day to and from school, held in a two-room building. He developed an interest in geography until one day, in 6th grade, he wondered: "What would the geography on other planets be like?"

    He checked out a book on Mars, and his uncle, an amateur astronomer, let him look through his telescope. Clyde was hooked.

    The family moved to Kansas, where he graduated high school. He was too poor to go to college, but, in his spare time, built a telescope. He shaped the lens by hand and used spare parts from an old Buick and a cream separator.

    He sent some sketches of Mars and Jupiter to the Lowell Observatory (hey, that was the "L" on Arizona A to Z in the Field Trips Forum). It turned out that the observatory needed someone to stoke the furnace, clear the snow and work in an unheated dome with a new telescope. Did he want the job?

    He was there right away. He started looking for the mysterious Planet X that was thought to exist somewhere out at the outer fringes of the solar system.

    He told an interviewer two years before his death in 1997: "There are 15 milion stars in the sky as bright or brighter than Pluto. I had to pick one image out of the 15 million. That's like looking for a needle in a haystack."

    On February 18, 1930, he found it. Suggestions for a name came from all over the world with an 11-year-old English girl's suggestion of the Roman god of the underworld being accepted.

    This celebration will have a Clyde Tombaugh impersonator and a NASA researcher as well as space exhibitions and a "Big Dipper" ice cream social. There will also be a dance "under the stars." There is talk of a statue or possibly building a science center.

    Sounds like a good time.

    For more information, this appeared in the May 18, 2007 Chicago Tribune. "After punch to its solar plexus, Streator rallies for hometown star" by Colleen Mastony.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Sorry I'll Miss It

    It was my great fortune to meet Dr. Tombaugh a few years before his death. You would be very hard pressed to find a nicer or more unassuming man. I actually think he'd be honored to know that rather than finding the 9th planet, he found the first of an entirely new class of objects that wasn't even hypothesized until decades after his discovery, the Kuiper Belt Objects.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default What a cool story!

    Thanks for sharing it, Road Dog. I love anecdotes like this. Although, I think there's something charming about Pluto being a "dwarf" planet. I don't know why.

    It's cool that you met Tombaugh, AZBuck! I bet he was a very interesting guy.

    So, is anybody going to the festival? We need pictures of Pluto floats.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Plutophilla!



    Megan wrote this column back in August, 2006 and I think you might get a kick out of it!

    Mark

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    The Great Midwest, Illinois to be precise
    Posts
    527

    Default Sign Me Up

    Plutophilia... Sounds like a cause to me. Imagine picking on Little Bitty Planet X like that. I would have liked to have gone to Streator had I know about it earlier. It is not too far from me.

    By the way, not only did I like the column, but I'm also enjoying her book. What a way to get into Roadin' and the internet at the same time.

    I had to share the article as it was just too interesting. He was a remarkable man and I would have liked to meet him. I imagine he would have been a bit uncomfortable with all this Streator hoopla, AzBuck.

    I'd never heard of him or even the Lowell Observatory until I came across the article about Arizona A to Z and that was the letter L.

    Can't Afford to Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway Anymore. Well...Much. --RoadDog
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 05-19-2007 at 01:59 PM. Reason: added a link to chapter one of "that book"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Plutophilia...I love it!

    I need to check out Megan's website more. Lots of cool stuff on there.

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