March 13th is a significant day for Harvard University, and for the history of Astronomy. And for Harvard Astronomy.
On this day in history in 1639, the oldest institution for higher learning in the New World changed its name to honor a benefactor, a man who had bequeathed a large sum of money and his extensive library to the school upon his death: John Harvard.
On this day in history in 1781, a man looking at the sky with a telescope in his backyard spotted a heavenly body which would come to be known as Uranus. At first he thought it was a star or a comet, but after several weeks of observation announced to the world the discovery of a new planet.
|The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in 2002|
On this day in history in 1930, the first pictures of Pluto were transmitted to the Harvard College Observatory from the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, where research into “Planet X” was being conducted. Harvard College Observatory, now half of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, has a hundred year collection of pictures of the sky, still available to any astronomy scholar to observe.