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Edwin Hubble


Hubble at telescope
Edwin Hubble
Credits - NASA

Edwin Hubble was born in Marshfield, Missouri, on November 20, 1898. During his lifetime, he made some of the most important discoveries in modern astronomy. He became the outstanding leader in the observational approach to cosmology, as contrasted with previous work that involved much philosophical speculation.


Although he wasn't an outstanding high school student, when he graduated he received a half scholarship to the University of Chicago, where he received his B.S. degree in 1910. In the same year. he was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, under which he read Roman and English Law at Queens College, Oxford. He returned to the United States in l913, passed the bar examination. After a year of practicing law in Louisville, Kentucky, he “chucked” the law and returned to the University of Chicago for postgraduate work leading to his doctoral degree in astronomy.


While finishing work for his doctorate early in l9l7, Hubble was invited to join the staff of the Mount Wilson Observatory in Pasadena, California, but turned it down to enlist in the infantry. After serving in France, and the end of the war, Hubble went immediately to Pasadena, California, and the Observatory.


In the 1920s, while working with the most advanced technology of the time, Hubble showed that some of the numerous distant, faint clouds of light in the universe were actually entire galaxies—much like our own Milky Way. The realization that the Milky Way is only one of many galaxies forever changed the way astronomers viewed our place in the universe.


Perhaps his greatest discovery came in 1929, when Hubble determined that the farther a galaxy is from Earth, the faster it appears to move away. This notion of an "expanding" universe formed the basis of the Big Bang theory, which states that the universe began with an intense burst of energy at a single moment in time—and has been expanding ever since.


Hubble worked at the Mount Wilson Observatory until the summer of 1942, when he left to do war work at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. For his valuable war service he was awarded the Medal of Merit in 1946.


After the war, Hubble returned to Mount Wilson where his brilliant research provided strong evidence of the need for a larger telescope. He assisted greatly in designing the 200-inch Hale telescope. He also served on the Mount Wilson Observatory Advisory Committee for building the Mount Palomar Observatory.


Hubble continued his research at Mount Wilson and Palomar until his death from a cerebral thrombosis on September 28, l953. The Hubble Space Telescope is named in his honor.