"About five minutes from the Eldridge Hotel, in the area around Louisiana Street between 6th and 9th streets, remains one of the finest residential neighborhoods in America. Old West Lawrence is distinguished...by a graceful mixture of styles, a wealth of detail, and the careful siting of each house. As I walked its streets--going from Gingerbread Victorian to Italianate to bungalow to those wonderful simple clapboards that stand up square and solid off the ground--I was looking not only at a good-natured competition to have the finest house, but also at a whole anthology of solutions to a comfortable and fulfilling family life."--William Bryant Logan, "Crossing the Sea of Grass" House Beautiful, March 1995
February 18th marks an important date in the history of solar-system observations. On that day in 1930, a young observing assistant walked into the director's office at Lowell Observatory and announced, "Dr. Slipher, I have found your Planet X." With that, 24-year-old Clyde Tombaugh made known his discovery of distant Pluto. The planet's existence had been predicted by turn-of-the-century astronomers based on what they thought were perturbations in the motions of Uranus and Neptune. But now we know Pluto is too small to have any measurable effect. What it *does* have is a satellite, named Charon, which was discovered in 1978. That proved very fortunate, for just a few years later the orbit of Charon and Earth lined up in a way that caused the two objects to pass repeatedly in front of one another. Coincidentally, the first of these "mutual events" was detected exactly 10 years ago, on February 17, 1985. But they will not occur again until early in the 22nd century.
Tombaugh lived with his wife, Patsy, near Las Cruces, New Mexico. He still had -- and occasionally used -- his homemade 9-inch reflector with which he honed his keen powers of observation. In the 65 years since he discovered Pluto, the planet has completed only about 1/4 of an orbit around the Sun.