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Edwin Hubble, Ph.D.

The @stro object for the week of 04/10/2000

image of Edwin Hubble

image courtesy of the Mt. Wilson Archive

Edwin Hubble, Ph.D. Dr. Edwin Hubble (1889-1953) is probably one of the most famous observational astronomers of the 20th century. He is credited with many amazing discoveries and his findings revolutionized celestial theories. His research continues to form the basis of current astronomical research.

Dr. Hubble was born in Marshfield, Missouri, to Virginia Lee James from Virginia City, Nevada, and John Powell Hubble from Missouri. He received his BS from the University of Chicago in 1910 and was awarded a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University in the same year where he went on to earn an MA. In 1913 he passed the bar and practiced law until he gave it up for astronomy. In 1914 he returned to the Yerkes Observatory at the University of Chicago to work on his doctoral work in astronomy. In 1917 he received his Ph.D. in astronomy.

He was invited to join the Mt. Wilson observatory staff in Pasadena, California, but the day after he finished his doctoral thesis and took the oral examination he enlisted with the US Army to take part in World War I. He was commissioned a captain and later attained the rank of major. He was discharged from the Army in 1919 and immediately moved to Mt. Wilson to accept the position he'd been offered before the war.

His research was accomplished using the power of the then-largest 100" Hooker Telescope at the Mt. Wilson observatory. He is credited with the research into the distances of celestial objects. This research eventually led to the discovery of the expansion of the universe and contributed to the theory of the Big Bang. In addition to the work on celestial distances he is credited with proving that other galaxies exist instead of being "nebulae" in our own galaxy as was previously thought, and that they are moving apart from each other.

Dr. Hubble eventually became convinced that the 100" Hooker telescope was too limiting and made a push for making a telescope with a larger aperture. He was a member of the Mt. Wilson advisory committee for the construction of the 200" Hale telescope at Palomar Observatory, advised during its construction and was the first person to observe with it.

Dr. Hubble died of a stroke on September 28, 1953 and his memory has been honored with the naming of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The following links were instrumental in finding information about Dr. Hubble:

biographical information about Edwin Hubble...

more on Edwin Hubble...

Mt. Wilson photo of Dr. Hubble...

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