Clyde Tombaugh: the autographs and life of the man who discovered Pluto

Are you a 'would-be planet hunter'?

If so, then you can look to the famous astronomer Clyde W Tombaugh (1906-1997) for inspiration. Tombaugh is today most famous for discovering the planet Pluto in 1930. But he was also a bit of a character...

Clyde Tombaugh

Visionary: Clyde Tombaugh

While giving lectures across the United States, Tombaugh would often share his own, tongue-in-cheek version of the Ten Commandments with his audiences. His version was entitled: 'Ten Special Commandments for a Would-Be Planet Hunter'.

"Thou shalt set no other work before thee for the search shall keep thee busy enough" and "Thou shalt not engage in any dissipation, that thy years may be many for thou shalt need them to finish the job!" were among the astronomer's light-hearted commandments.

Tombaugh's sense of humour was matched by his intelligence, expertise and diligence. As well as discovering Pluto in 1930, he also discovered nearly 800 asteroids and the first object in the Kuiper Belt (a region of the Solar System beyond the planets extending from the orbit of Neptune).

His diligence didn't only stretch to planets and asteroids - but also UFOs. Tombaugh is still the most eminent astronomer to have claimed to have seen unidentified flying objects, and to support the idea of the existence of aliens.

Clyde Tombaugh-ufo

Tombaugh claimed to have had
various UFO encounters during
his life

It was on August 20, 1949, that Tombaugh's perspective on aliens would change forever. While out in Las Cruces, New Mexico, the astronomer spotted several UFOs. He later said of the six to eight rectangular lights...

"I doubt that the phenomenon was any terrestrial reflection, because... nothing of the kind has ever appeared before or since... I was so unprepared for such a strange sight that I was really petrified with astonishment."

The sighting was no fluke, and Tombaugh spotted more UFOs at a White Sands observatory a couple of years later. He described one of these as an object of '-6' magnitude - four times brighter than Venus at its brightest - which manoeuvred similarly to the UFOs at Las Cruces.

Since his death in 1997, Clyde Tombaugh has left a kind of legacy which greatly appeals to collectors. For starters, his contributions to astronomy - especially his discovery of Pluto in 1930 - proved invaluable to mankind's understanding of our solar system.

Secondly, Tombaugh's eccentricities and passion for ideas surrounding extra-terrestrial life gained him a cult following. It is for these reasons that we have contributed to preserving Tombaugh's legacy here at Paul Fraser Collectibles.

Paul has handled various pieces of Tombaugh memorabilia over the years - a few of which we currently have for sale...

We have this autographed sketch by Tombaugh entitled "SOLAR SYSTEM" for sale featuring Pluto, the planet Tombaugh discovered - click here for more details


Our finest memorabilia piece dates to 1990: an autographed sketch by Tombaugh entitled "SOLAR SYSTEM". The drawing shows the orbits of Pluto, in comparison to the orbits of Earth, Saturn and Neptune, sketched by the hand of the man who first discovered the planet.

And, for would-be planet hunters, we have - not one, but two - autographed copies of Tombaugh's famous 'Ten Special Commandments for a Would-Be Planet Hunter', the astronomer's light-hearted guide for budding planet spotters.

Fascinatingly, one of our copies for sale was actually signed and inscribed for a man of God. "To Rev. William Ward," reads Tombaugh's inscription, "with best wishes, Clyde W. Tombaugh, 7 May 1984."

This 1984 signed copy of Ten Special Commandments for a Would-Be Planet Hunter is currently for sale - find out more here - we advise that you never leave home without it


Both 'Ten Special Commandments' sheets are in excellent condition.

One thing's for sure: Tombaugh's invaluable contribution to astronomy and his undying legacy should guarantee that these autographed pieces become increasingly valued in future years.

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