Happy Birthday, Pluto!

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On February 18th, Pluto turns 89 years old- well, the discovery of Pluto anyway! This controversial planet/not planet/dwarf planet was discovered in our very own backyard, in Flagstaff, Arizona at the Lowell Observatory. A young, 23-year-old Clyde Tombaugh discovered the small planet 14 years after Percival Lowell passed away- Lowell working desperately to discover ‘Planet X’. The method in which Tombaugh spotted the planet is fascinating and can be read about here.

 

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Tombaugh was originally from Streator, Illinois, but graduated with his bachelor and master’s degrees in astronomy from the University of Kansas- but not until 8 years AFTER his discovery! Tombaugh is credited for discovering numerous asteroids as well. Four years before the discovery, he was building homemade telescopes in his parents’ farm field. He began working at the Lowell Observatory after he sent them drawings of Jupiter and Mars. After graduating from Kansas, he returned to Arizona where he taught naval navigation at Northern Arizona University during World War II. He retired from New Mexico State University in 1973 where he taught astronomy.

 

pluto harvardThe discovery was exciting news, especially during the Great Depression. News made its way around the world, with telegrams being sent from observatory to observatory, news outlet to news outlet.

 

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The name Pluto was chosen after a competition was created seeking suggestions. The winner would win about $480 USD (in today’s dollars). Lowell Observatory received over 1,000 suggestions, but 11-year-old Venetia Burney from Oxford, England would win with her suggestion of Pluto.

 

 

 

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The discovery was a proud moment for Arizona and arguably helped solidify Arizona and its Universities as players in the space race, astronomy, and geosciences.

Want more?

If you are interested in diving a little deeper into Pluto’s discovery, the Lowell Observatory, or astronomy in general, check out the two collections on the Arizona Memory Project created by the Lowell Observatory (a third is in the works!).

 

pluto researchWe also have a Research Topic page with additional links: Discovering Pluto at Lowell Observatory, which is in the process of being updated.

 

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Our Gale Science in Context database also has several resources on Pluto and other planets.

 

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On Reading Arizona, our free online e-book library, you can find the book “Observatories of the Southwest“, which includes information about major observatories of the region, including Arizona’s Kitt Peak National Observatory and Lowell Observatory.

 

 

 

pluto booksAnd our Arizona Collection and State Publications have SEVERAL University of Arizona Press books about Pluto, which can be viewed in our Reading Room or requested via interlibrary loan from your local public library.

And we even have a book by Tombaugh himself: Out of the Darkness, the Planet Pluto.

 

Happy birthday, Pluto!

And happy researching!

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Arizona’s Ever-Changing Constitution

What’s with all these propositions?

Arizona’s Constitution can be amended in 3 ways. The Legislature may vote to put a proposal on the ballot (Referendum). Second, the voters may submit a petition with the required number of signatures (Initiative).  Regardless of the means of getting on the ballot, if a majority votes for the proposition, it becomes law and the Constitution is changed. The 3rd method is for the Legislature to propose a Constitutional Convention. In that case, the voters must approve the Convention and any revisions that the Convention recommends. These routes to change our Constitution make for some vibrant, interactive, and often rowdy election cycles!

At the State of Arizona Research Library we have lots of materials about the Arizona Constitution. You can browse the Minutes or the Records of the Constitutional Convention of 1910.

 

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You can compare the Arizona Constitution with the U.S. Constitution with these publications from the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.

You can see how the Arizona Constitution has changed over the years at our Constitution Timeline here.

You can study the work of experts who have analyzed the Constitution by viewing these titles (and more) in our Reading Room or borrowing them through your public library via interlibrary loan. The Toni McClory book is also available for free as an ebook through Reading Arizona!

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And you can vote! There are 3 proposed Constitutional amendments on the ballot for the 2018 midterm election on November 6, 2018.  Here’s the publicity pamphlet for this year’s General Election.

Reading Arizona eBooks

We are excited to announce that Reading Arizona, the Digital Arizona Library‘s eBook collection, is officially up and running on it’s new platform. In partnership with Baker & Taylor, the worldwide distributor of digital and print books, Reading Arizona can be accessed with the Axis 360 mobile app. The collection now contains more contemporary titles, as well as digital audio-books.

Reading Arizona

New Arizona-themed titles will be regularly added to the collection to include a wide selection of fiction, non-fiction, teen and children’s eBooks.

Click here to get started!

This project is supported by the Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records, a division of the Secretary of State, with federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.