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Edwin Hubble, Astronomer

You know the name Hubble from the telescope, but did you know that before astronomer Edwin Hubble made his mark in the science and history books, the starry-eyed man made his home in Kentuckiana?

In 1909, the Hubble family moved to Shelbyville, Kentucky and later to Louisville, though for Edwin, the majority of that time was spent studying in Oxford, England, as a Rhodes Scholar.

Edwin returned to Louisville to care for his family after his father’s death. In his twenties Edwin Hubble taught and coached basketball at New Albany High School, where he was a favorite among students. This is evident in the 1914 yearbook, which was dedicated to him. The yearbook photo that appears in this Etcetera segment is courtesy of Jean Noe, Library Media Specialist at New Albany High School Library.

Outside of the classroom Hubble continued to mentor students like the Roberts and Hale families, with whom he spent time hiking, caving, and socializing. After the term ended however, Hubble was free to pursue his true passion – astronomy, something that was not supported by his late father. The photograph seen here, taken in New Albany, Indiana, is the earliest on record of Hubble with a telescope. This personal photographs, along with others seen in this Etcetera, were taken by John R. Roberts, one of Hubble's students. They appear courtesy of John R. Hale, the photographer's nephew.

Edwin Hubble left Louisville for good in the fall of 1914, to embark on his new career.

Hubble’s astronomical accomplishments earned him worldwide recognition and accolades.

He was dubbed one of Time Magazine’s Top 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century, and NASA named the world’s first space-based optical telescope after him.

The Hubble Space Telescope, which launched in 1990, brings pictures from the farthest reaches of space home.

More out-of-this-world facts:

  • Hubble taught Spanish, physics and mathematics at New Albany High School in southern Indiana. As the basketball coach, he lead the school’s team to a third place finish in the state championship that school year (1913-1914).
  • In 1946, Edwin Hubble was awarded the Medal of Merit, for exceptional conduct in providing outstanding services to citizens during WWII. In 1948, he was also elected Honorary Fellow of Queen’s College, Oxford, for his notable contributions to Astronomy.
  • Hubble was also instrumental in the design of another telescope - the Hale Telescope. The Hale Telescope was set up at the Mount Palomar Observatory, and Hubble was the very first person to use it.
  • Hubble was the toast of Tinseltown in the 1930s and 1940s. He was friends with famous folks including Charlie Chaplain, Helen Hayes and William Randolph Hearst.
  • The Hubble Telescope launched April 24, 1990 from the space shuttle Discovery.
  • The telescope's energy source is the sun.
  • The first image received from the Hubble Telescope was Star Cluster NGC 3532 on May 20, 1990.
  • It takes 97 minutes for the telescope to complete one orbit at a speed of 7,500 mph.
  • NASA plans to repair the Hubble Space Telescope in September 2008.

For images, news and other Hubble Telescope fun, visit HubbleSite and the Hubble Heritage Project.

On October 25,2007, the research astronomer who was the Hubble Telescope's first chief scientist will talk about "Creating the Hubble Space Telescope" at the University of Louisville.

C.R. "Bob" O'Dell, now distinguished research professor of astronomy at Vanderbilt University, will give the free, public talk at 7:30 p.m. in Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium.

As its first project scientist from 1972 to 1982, O'Dell organized national support for the observatory, helped create its scientific goals, worked on engineering requirements and helped design it at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. He received NASA's public service medal in 1991.

If you would like further information about Dr. O'Dell's talk, visit William Marshall Bullitt lecture.

Program 203
Lebowski Fest graphic artist Bill Green, The Vernon bowling lanes, Renaissance woman Angela Bartley, Hubble history in Louisville, and the new director of the Speed Art Museum, Charles Venable. (#203)