November 1889 – September 1953
Edwin Hubble was born in the small town of Marshfield, Missouri, USA, on November 29th, 1889. In 1898, His family moved to Chicago, where he attended high school. Young Edwin Hubble had been fascinated by science and mysterious new worlds from an early age, having spent his childhood reading the works of Jules Verne (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, From the Earth to the Moon), and Henry Rider Haggard (King Solomon’s Mines), Edwin Hubble was a fine student and an even better athlete, having broken the Illinois State high jump record. When he attended University, Hubble continued to excel in sports such as basketball and boxing, but he also found time to study and earn an undergraduate degree in mathematics and astronomy. Hubble went to study at Oxford University where, instead of studying astronomy, he studied law. However, it didn’t take very long for Hubble to realise his passion for astronomy and in 1917 he received a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Chicago.
Hubble returned from a tour of duty in the first World War and immediately began working at the Mount Wilson Observatory in California.
Hubble observed many distant stars and nebulae and came to the conclusion that these were too far away to be part of the Milky Way.
This determined the existence of other galaxies and eliminated the belief that the Milky Way was the Universe. Hubble was also able to measure the distance to nearby galaxies and was able to come to the conclusion that they were moving away from us, thus coming to the conclusion that the Universe is expanding. These discoveries gave birth to the ‘Big Bang’ theory, if the Universe is expanding, it must have originated from a centre point. Hubble continued work at Mount Wilson until his death in September 1953.
Edwin Hubble Facts:
- Edwin Hubble was born in Marshfield, Missouri but moved to Wheaton, Illinois in 1900.
- He was a gifted athlete who played baseball, football, basketball and ran track in both high school and college and led The University of Chicago to its first basketball conference title in 1907.
- He earned a B.S. in mathematics and astronomy from the University of Chicago in 1910 and spent three years at The Queen’s College, Oxford after earning a bachelors as one of the university’s first Rhodes Scholars.
- Hubble’s father had moved the family to Louisville, Ky in 1909 and when he died in 1913, Hubble returned from England to care for his mother and three younger siblings.
- He taught Spanish, physics and mathematics at New Albany High School in New Albany, In for a year before deciding to return to follow his dream and become a professional astronomer.
- He studied astronomy at the Yerkes Observatory of the University of Chicago where he received his PhD in 1917 with a dissertation entitled Photographic Investigations of Faint Nebulae.
- In 1917 Hubble volunteered for the U.S. Army and was assigned to the 86th Division.
- In 1919 George Ellery Hale offered him a staff position at Mount Wilson Observatory near Pasadena, California.
- Hubble was the first astronomer to use Mount Palomar’s giant 200-inch reflector telescope.
- In 1922-23 Hubble made his greatest contribution to the field of astronomy when he proved that the Milky Way was not the only galaxy in the universe.
- Hubble’s expanding universe theory changed the scientific view of the cosmos forever.
- On March 6, 2008, the U.S. Postal Service released a stamp honoring Hubble with the citation that reads “pioneer of the distant stars.”
- Had he not died suddenly in 1953, Hubble would have won that year’s Novel Prize in Physics.