Edwin Powell Hubble (November 20, 1889 – September 28, 1953) was a noted American astronomer, generally credited for discovering1 the redshift of galaxies and that the universe is expanding.
Hubble was born to an insurance executive in Marshfield, Missouri and moved to Wheaton, Illinois in 1898. In his younger days, he was noted more for his athletic abilities rather than his intellectual genius: he won seven first places2 and a third placing in a single high school meet in 1906. That year he also set a state record for high jump in Illinois.
His studies at the University of Chicago concentrated on mathematics and astronomy which led to a B.S. degree in 1910. He spent the next three years as one of Oxford's first Rhodes Scholars, where he studied in the field of law and received the M.A. degree, after which he returned to the United States as a high school teacher and a basketball coach in New Albany, Indiana
He served in World War I and quickly became major. He returned to astronomy at the Yerkes Observatory of the University of Chicago, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1917. In 1919 Hubble was offered a staff position by George Ellery Hale, the founder and director of Carnegie Institution's Mount Wilson Observatory, near Pasadena, California, where he remained until his death. He also served in the US army during World War II. Shortly before his death, Palomar's 200-inch Hale Telescope was completed, Hubble was the first to use it.
He died of stroke on September 28, 1953, in San Marino, California.
His arrival at Mount Wilson coincided roughly with the completion of the 100-inch Hooker Telescope , then the world's most powerful telescope. Hubble's observations in 1923–1924 with the Hooker Telescope established beyond doubt that the fuzzy "nebulae" seen earlier with less powerful telescopes were not part of our galaxy, as had been thought, but were galaxies themselves, outside the Milky Way. He announced his discoveries on December 30, 1924.
Subsequently, with Milton Humason, Hubble discovered the velocity-distance relation, now know as the Hubble's law, which led to the concept of the expanding universe. The law states that the greater the distance between any two galaxies, the greater their relative speed of separation.
Hubble discovered the asteroid 1373 Cincinnati on August 30, 1935.
Named for him
1 This had actually been observed by Vesto Slipher in the 1910s, but the world was largely unaware.
2 For the record, these were discus, hammer throw, pole vault, standing and running high jump, shot put, mile-relay. The third-placing was for broad jump.
Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46