About the Collection
Personal and professional papers of the planetary astronomer who discovered Pluto in 1930. Consisting of approximately 150 linear feet of material, the papers include correspondence, educational records, administrative files, research files, writings, technical drawings, photographs, astronomical charts, and printed matter.
Personal papers document Tombaugh's Kansas boyhood, his early interest in astronomy and telescope-making, and his arrival at Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona, in 1929. Later materials concern his diverse interests in politics, education, and religion, and his family life.
The extensive professional papers span Tombaugh's full career, from his observational work at Lowell Observatory (1929-1943) to his tenure at New Mexico State University (NMSU). Tombaugh's employment at White Sands Proving Ground (1946-1955) in New Mexico and his research in telescopic optics are well represented. The Near Earth Satellite Search, a study initiated by Tombaugh at White Sands and continued during his subsequent employment at NMSU is thoroughly documented. The bulk of the professional papers concern his years at NMSU (1955-1973) and his work with the Planetary Patrol and Study Project. The records also illustrate the development of the NMSU Department of Astronomy. Correspondence with prominent professional and amateur astronomers, astrophysicists, and experts in related sciences is found throughout the collection, as are such visual materials as drawings, photographs, and maps.