Photo: The Pluto Discovery Dome | Shannon Gonzales
Construction on the building known today as the Pluto Discovery Dome was completed in September of 1928, 11 years and 10 months after the death of observatory founder and Planet X seeker Percival Lowell. Though Percival himself would not live to see his Planet X found, this unassuming, two-story telescope dome made of local basalt rock is where the decades-long quest would finally come to an end.
A New Beginning
The fevered search for Planet X was placed on hold for nearly a decade after Percival’s passing in November of 1916, due large in part to a tense legal battle between the observatory and his widow, Constance Lowell, concerning the contents of his will. This, coupled with the onset of World War 1, brought the observatory to the brink of financial ruin. By 1927, however, the role of sole trustee had been passed onto Roger Lowell Putnam, Percival’s nephew. Determined to bring the observatory back to prominence after a period of financial hardship and low morale, Roger resurrected his uncle’s tireless search for the 9th planet in our solar system. To accomplish this, he enlisted the help of then-director V.M. Slipher. While ...