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Profile of the Day: Percival Lowell

Today we celebrate the birth of Percival Lowell, the astronomer who initiated the work that would lead to the discovery of Pluto.

Image: Percival Lowell / Library of Congress

Lowell was born on March 13, 1855 in Cambridge, Massachusetts to a prominent and wealthy family. His second great grandfather, John Lowell, was a judge and delegate to the Congress of the Confederation. His maternal grandfather, Abbott Lawrence, was a prominent businessman, philanthropist, and founder of Lawrence, Massachusetts.

During the 1880s, Percival traveled extensively in the Far East and published a number of books about life in Japan and Korea. Upon returning to the United States in 1892, Percival chose to focus his career studying astronomy.

In 1894, he founded the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona and spent the last decade of his life in search of a possible ninth planet, which he termed “Planet X.” Fourteen years after his death, Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto at Lowell Observatory. Its name would be inspired by Percival Lowell’s initials “PL.” In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet, fueling the internet to cry afoul at the downgrade of Pluto’s status.

Explore Percival Lowell’s family tree on Geni and share how you’re connected to the astronomer.

View Percival Lowell’s Geni Profile

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Source: Geni.com

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