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Needle in a Haystack book cover

“I guess my kid sister sized me up right.” said Clyde. “She thinks I discovered a whole new world. I guess I did. How would you feel if you saw a new world giving you the high sign?”

Farm boy Clyde W. Tombaugh trained his homemade telescope on the planets. He drew the surfaces of Mars and Jupiter and shared his drawings with Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. Gadzooks! They hired him to search for a new planet! After 300 days of scouring the sky with a powerful telescope, Clyde pinpointed Pluto’s location on February 18, 1930. His tenacity paid off— he found the last planet in the solar system. This 1280-word biography about Clyde W. Tombaugh, the young man who discovered Pluto,
is a confirmation of the twin pillars of success—passion and persistence.

Diane hopes this book’s message will resonate with children.

“The inspiring story of Clyde Tombaugh and his discovery of Pluto is as much about personal dedication and persistence as it is a scientific quest. It is a tale for both young and old, and this book captures it well for young audiences.

—Kevin Schindler, Historian, Lowell Observatory

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Clyde W. Tombaugh

Here is additional information about Clyde’s life.

Clyde W. Tombaugh

Kids Jumping

Student Activities are provided for children to enrich the content of the book and for use by parents and teachers. Other activities will be added over time. More great activities can be found by grade level at the NASA Kidsclub.

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How High can I jump on Pluto?


The pull of gravity on Earth is 15 times stronger than on Pluto. Gravity is an invisible force that pulls objects toward each other. Earth's gravity is what keeps you on the ground and what makes things fall. Pluto has about one-fifteenth the gravity of Earth. Because of gravity you can jump 15 times higher on Pluto than on Earth. You can figure out how high you could jump on Pluto by figuring out how high you can jump on Earth.

1.Kids have your parents or teacher give you a measuring tool like a ruler or tape. Find a safe space at home or in the classroom to practice jumping as high as possible. When you are ready, have your parents or teacher measure the height of your jump using one of the measuring tools.

2. Using a piece of string or ribbon, measure a length equal to the height of your Earth jump. Label the strip “Earth Jump.” Then cut 15 strips of string or ribbon as long as your earth jump. (Remember your Pluto jump will be 15 times higher than your Earth jump.)

3. Lay out your 15 Earth jump sections to see your Pluto jump height. Hold up your Pluto jump so you and others can see just how high you could jump on Pluto!

Thanks to Todd Gonzales, Education Manager at Lowell Observatory, for sharing this activity

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