Vesto Slipher (1875-1969) Director of Lowell Observatory when Clyde Tombaugh found Planet X.


And here is Vesto Slipher, the famous Director, contributor to Hubble’s great theory of the expanding universe, respectable as hell in his gray three-piece suits and a short-cropped head of gray hair and the pale somehow scholastic look of the dressed-up farmer.  “Boys,” he greets them, in the red-lit darkness of the observatory’s interior.  “You took an axe to the distillery, it smells like.”

Vesto Slipher was known to everyone who knew him as “V.M.”  He had a brother, E. C. Slipher, who was also an astronomer at Lowell Observatory, but who proved one too many Sliphers to get into the book.  I wrote him out entirely.  I justified this to myself by noting that he was away a lot, in Phoenix.