It was discovered by a former Burdett, Kansas resident 1930. Later, to the chagrin of many astronomers, it was demoted by the International Astronomical Union in 2006.
Clyde W. Tombaugh was born on February 4, 1906 in Streator, Illinois and moved with his family to Burdett at the age of 16.
His plans to attend college were delayed by hardships at the family farm, but that did not stop his continuing education.
Clyde turned to outer space to satisfy his curiosity. His father and his uncle encouraged his explorations. The first telescope he looked through belonged to his uncle.
The first telescope he owned was from Sears and Roebuck.
By 1925, he was dissatisfied with the quality of store bought equipment and he began building telescopes along with lenses and mirrors. With a pick and shovel he dug a 24-foot long, seven-foot wide, eight-foot trench.
This trench not only provided constant temperature with no air currents for the construction of his instruments, but served as a storm shelter and root cellar for him and his family.
Tombaugh made over 30 telescopes in his lifetime.
Looking through his homemade telescopes, Tombaugh made drawings of Jupiter and Mars which so impressed the people at Lowell Observatory at Flagstaff, Arizona they offered him a job in 1929 where he was employed until 1945.
While employed at Lowell, he earned his bachelor's degree in 1936 and a master's degree in 1938 at the University of Kansas.
Tombaugh is most remembered for the discovery he made before attending the University.
In 1930, just 10 months after starting at Lowell, he discovered Pluto in what was later known as the Kuiper Belt.
At that time, Pluto was hailed as the ninth planet.
Tombaugh also found a number of asteroids. One, 1604 Tombaugh which he discovered in 1931, is named after him.
Also in 1931, the Royal Astronomical Society awarded him the Jackson-Gwitt Medal.
During World War II he taught naval personnel navigation at Northern Arizona University.
During the 1950's he worked at the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico and taught astronomy at New Mexico State University, where he stayed until his retirement in 1973.
In 1980, the International Space Hall of Fame inducted him.
Beginning in the 1990's astronomers questioned Pluto's status as a planet.
Scientists had discovered other large objects orbiting the sun in the region of Pluto.
They couldn't all be considered full-fledged planets.
On Aug. 24, 2006, the International Astronomical Union downgraded Pluto to a "dwarf planet," a status it shared with two other objects of similar size.
Though Pluto is no longer considered our ninth planet, Tombaugh's contributions to astronomy still rank as important.
Clyde Tombaugh died on Jan. 17, 1997 and was cremated. Part of ashes are abroad the New Horizons space probe which flew by Pluto on July 14, 2015.
This probe discovered the famous heart-shaped formation on Pluto which is named the "Tombaugh Region" after the former Burdett resident and KU alumnus.