KU Greatness - Who Knew?

  • Never knew this:

    Pluto’s ‘heart’ named for KU grad who discovered the planet

    By Sara Shepherd July 15, 2015

    The heart-shaped feature on Pluto’s surface — which itself got a lot of love from Pluto-watchers worldwide this week — will be named for the Kansas University alumnus who discovered the celestial body.

    NASA on Wednesday released preliminary reports and images from Tuesday’s historic New Horizons spacecraft fly-by, which provided an unprecedented up-close view of Pluto.

    The New Horizons team also announced the feature informally known as the “heart” would be named “Tombaugh Regio” after Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930, according to media reports from a NASA briefing on Wednesday.

    This July 13, 2015, image provided by NASA shows Pluto from the New Horizons spacecraft. The United States is now the only nation to visit every single planet in the solar system.

    That makes sense, said Kansas University physics and astronomy professor Bruce Twarog.

    Tombaugh inspired generations of planetary scientists “who were willing to look beyond the big, bright and obvious to achieve a deeper understanding of the solar system,” Twarog said.

    Not only did Tombaugh discover Pluto, Twarog said, he maintained Pluto’s profile for decades and deserves credit for the fact that people continue to study it.

    Tombaugh grew up on a farm near Burdett, Kan., and had hopes of attending KU, but a hailstorm that wiped out his crops left him with no money for college, according to Mike Reid, director of the KU History Project.

    “He saw an ad in an astronomy magazine that there was a part-time position at Lowell Observatory,” Reid said. “So he wrote them with some of his observations, and they hired him. There, he discovered Pluto.”

    With his pay from Lowell and a scholarship from KU, Reid said, Tombaugh returned to Kansas and enrolled at KU, where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1936 and master’s in 1939.

    Pluto was long considered the ninth planet, but in 2006 was reclassified to a new category of bodies called dwarf planets.

    The mysterious “heart” shows prominently in a pre-fly-by photo NASA released on Monday.

    NASA describes it as a “large, bright feature,” measuring about 1,000 miles across and with an interior that “appears remarkably featureless — possibly a sign of ongoing geologic processes.”

    More details about the heart and the rest of the planet should emerge from the fly-by.


    Preliminary images and information NASA released this week — including an up-close shot showing mountains on Pluto’s icy surface — is exciting for the public but more like a teaser for scientists, Twarog said.

    NASA is expected to release a few more photos in coming days, but the bulk of the data won’t be available for months. Studying that will change our understanding of the planet, Twarog said.


    “The images coming back are spectacular,” he said. “The science is going to be even more important.”

    plutodiscoverer.jpg In this 1980 photo provided by Dale Wittner, Clyde Tombaugh is shown in Las Cruces, N.M., with a telescope similar to one he used to find Pluto decades earlier.

    Pluto was No. 9 in the lineup when New Horizons departed Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Jan. 19, 2006.

  • Piano that once belonged to Phog Allen returns to KU

    By Joanna Hlavacek

    Sunday, July 19, 2015

    From the time they were small, there was “never any question” that the Gallup girls would learn how to play the piano.

    And, from how Cindy Pine (née Gallup) tells it, that’s what they did. When your mom’s a professional piano accompanist, you don’t have much of a choice.

    “Our home was always full of wonderful music,” recalls Pine, who, along with her sister, Nancy, continued with lessons until graduating high school.

    She talks about her family’s piano in casual terms now — it had been a fixture in the Gallup house since her toddler years — but the Mason & Hamlin baby grand that Pine and her sister, Nancy, puttered around on as kids was, in fact, special.

    At one point, she says, it had belonged to none other than Forrest Clare “Phog” Allen, the legendary Kansas University basketball coach who guided the Jayhawks through 24 conference championships and three national titles.


    Photo by Nick Krug

    A piano once owned by legendary Kansas University basketball coach Phog Allen, is pictured in the chancellor’s residence. The piano, which was a gift to the University from Lawrence couple Winnie and Al Gallup, who bought the piano from the Allen family in the 1950’s, was delivered to the Chancellor’s residence after a restoration effort by the School of Music.

    “I don’t remember any other piano,” Pine says of the storied instrument, which settled into its new home at the residence of KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little last month. “It was just always the piano in our house.”

    The story of how it got there is a fascinating little nugget of Lawrence history, says Michael Arp of the KU Endowment Association, who helped facilitate Al and Winnie Gallup’s donation of the piano to the university last fall.

    The instrument, which recently underwent a complete restoration at the hands of KU School of Music piano technician Vincent Mrykalo, will now reside permanently at The Outlook.

    “The connection to the Gallups, who have a long history with KU, and the fact that it was connected to Phog Allen’s family, makes it a perfect place for the instrument to be,” says Arp, who serves as KU Endowment’s development director for the School of Music and the Lied Center. “A place where it’ll be enjoyed by a lot of people for many years to come.”

    It’s the most recent — and tentatively the last — move for Phog Allen’s old piano, which long-time owner Al Gallup first encountered as a sales representative at the now-defunct Bell Music Company nearly 80 years ago.

    Al, who had secured the job through a KU fraternity brother, was working the floor at Bell one day in 1936 when the basketball coach stopped by the store to purchase a piano for his daughter, Eleanor.

    According to an affidavit written by the Gallups, Al waited on Allen and helped him select the Mason & Hamlin baby grand. Retail price: about $500.

    Nearly two decades had passed before Al — who in the meantime met Winnie during a voice lesson at KU, married her, graduated from college and served as a pilot in the Air Force during World War II — saw an ad in the Lawrence Daily Journal-World.

    The Allen piano was for sale. Asking price: $500, even after all those years.


    Photo by Nick Krug

    Lawrence couple Winnie and Al Gallup donated Phog Allen’s piano to Kansas University after maintaining possession of it since the 1950s, when they purchased it from the Allen family. They are pictured on Wednesday, July 1, 2015 at Presbyterian Manor.

    At the time, the Gallups had a small spinet, but Winnie was on the lookout for something bigger and more suited to her needs. So, Al called the number listed in the ad, and set up an appointment with Mrs. Phog Allen.

    Turns out, Eleanor Allen had since married, moved to Illinois and taken the piano with her.

    “Mrs. Allen said, ‘Now, there’s been a divorce in the family. Eleanor’s coming back home, and the kids don’t seem to be interested in the piano,” Winnie, now 94, recalls. “And then she said, ‘I’ll just level with you — at this point with all the troubles, the money for the piano would be more meaningful to her right now than the piano is.’ So, that’s how we got the piano.”

    It wasn’t the Gallups’ last interaction with the Allen family, however. Al, a one-time military science professor at KU, had a chummy relationship with the basketball coach.

    Both avid golfers, the two would often hit the links with Phog’s close friend Donald Swarthout, who served as dean of the KU School of Music from 1923 to 1950.

    Phog, Al recalls, was something of a renaissance man. In addition to his coaching, the KU legend was also a music lover and osteopathic physician.

    In fact, after his retirement, Phog would often tend to Al’s back problems.

    “So, I’d go over there, and the first thing he’d have you do is lie down on your back. He’d take one leg and pull it back like that,” says Al, who at 99 is still able to gesture upward to punctuate his story. “A lot of it was conversation, too. He was an interesting person.”

    Throughout the years, Coach Allen’s piano stayed with Al and Winnie, first at their rental home at 1212 Ohio St., then to the Gallups’ long-time home at 848 W. 21st St. in 1959, where it remained for exactly 50 years before the couple moved to Lawrence Presbyterian Manor in 2009.

    But Winnie, who played the organ at Lawrence’s First Presbyterian Church for 67 years, found it increasingly difficult to keep making music at her new home.

    She was getting older, and a move from the facility’s independent-living section to its nursing unit left the couple’s already-cramped quarters too tight for a baby grand piano.

    It was finally time, Winnie admitted, to give new life to the instrument that had provided her family with so much “wonderful music” over the years.

    The Gallups, who celebrate their 73rd wedding anniversary next month, hope the piano’s new residence at The Outlook will provide young musicians an opportunity to perform at chancellor-hosted events.

    “We didn’t want it to be locked up with (a sign) saying ‘Gift of the Gallups.’ Oh, no,” Winnie says. “We wanted it to go someplace where it’s used.”

    And how does 1532 Lilac Lane compare to 848 W. 21st St.?

    “I’d said, as far as we’re concerned, we’re just tickled to death that it’s found a happy home,” she says.

  • Spent some time in Lindley Hall. And atop that building is the Tombaugh Observatory, visible from the FieldHouse.

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