Clyde William Tombaugh (February 4, 1906 – January 17, 1997) was an American astronomer.
Although he is best known for discovering the dwarf planet Pluto in 1930, the first object to be discovered in what would later be identified as the Kuiper belt, Tombaugh also discovered many asteroids; he also called for the serious scientific research of unidentified flying objects, or “U.F.O.s”.
The asteroid 1604 Tombaugh, discovered in 1931, is named after him. He discovered hundreds of asteroids, beginning with 2839 Annette in 1929, mostly as a by-product of his search for Pluto and his searches for other celestial objects. Tombaugh named some of them after his wife, children and grandchildren. The Royal Astronomical Society awarded him the Jackson-Gwilt Medal in 1931.
In August 1992, JPL scientist Robert Staehle called Tombaugh, requesting permission to visit his planet. “I told him he was welcome to it,” Tombaugh later remembered, “though he’s got to go one long, cold trip.” The call eventually led to the launch of the New Horizons space probe to Pluto in 2006.