#PlutoFlyby Looking Backwards

While you're waiting for the first updates from the New Horizons #PlutoFlyby, we collected some of the earliest news about its discovery from our microfilm collection. The Boston Evening Transcript actually ran the news the day the discovery was made public; here's their headline from March 13, 1930.

While Boston was fairly restrained, both the New York Times and the Arkansas Gazette, running their headlines on March 14th, expected the "newly discovered body" to be quite massive indeed —

NYT-314     AR-gazette

Our last paper, the Tribune of Lahore, India, brought expectations back towards Earth; it did not, as the NYT did, suggest that the new object might even be bigger than Jupiter. The Tribune didn't publish this piece until March 16, 1930: between March and April that year, Ghandi led his Salt March, which took precedence even over new planets in their newspaper.


By the mid-1930s, although we still weren't clear on the scale of Pluto, we were already talking about the feasibility of a visit. In his book Rockets through Space, P.E. Cleator painted a picture of the first space travelers truly "set[ting] off into illimitable space for destinations unknown." Unknown destinations indeed! Here, from Astronomy for the Millions, is one of the earliest photos of Pluto ever released.


Tonight, we'll know for sure that New Horizons successfully flew within just a few thousand miles of Pluto, and over the next few days, our pictures will be in one pixel per mile definition: a far cry from the one pixel per planet of 1930!