Issue Date: March 6, 2008
City: New York, NY
Edwin Hubble (1889-1953) made some of the most important discoveries in modern astronomy during the 1920s. Although Hubble had been interested in science from a young age, he studied law while at Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship. After practicing law for just one year, Hubble realized astronomy was his real passion. He abandoned his law practice to attend the University of Chicago.
With a Ph.D. in astronomy, Hubble was offered a position at the Mount Wilson Observatory near Los Angeles, California. There he used a 100-inch reflecting telescope to study nebulae. Originally considered part of our own Milky Way galaxy, Hubble discovered these nebulae were actually galaxies beyond our own. He next created a classification of these galaxies, called the Hubble Tuning Fork diagram, which sorted them by shape and distance.
His studies also revealed Hubble's Law, which showed that galaxies move away from each other, creating an expanding universe. This led to Hubble’s Constant, which stated that the greater the distance between the galaxies, the faster they move away from each other. In 1990, the Hubble telescope was named after the distinguished astronomer. It continues to teach us about our universe.
Hubble was honored with a 41¢ U.S. stamp in the second se-tenant block of four of the American Scientists Series in 2008.