When we said that Claudius Ptolemy was one of the most important astronomers ever, we weren’t lying. He has done more for our modern constellation map than anyone else. But in modern astronomy there aren’t many scientists who have had more influence than today’s Master of the Stars, Edwin Hubble. Luckily, he also gets recognised for his work. Let’s face it, how many massive telescopes do you have named after you?
There’s more to a star map than you think. What you see aren’t just stars. Some of these dots are planets from our own solar system; we can see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn with the naked eye. Obviously, we can see the Moon at night and the Sun during the day, but that’s not all. And we know there is more all thanks to Edwin Hubble. Before him, the aforementioned list was all there was to it. But Hubble noticed there was more than that, so much more than that!
It's not just stars in the constellations
When Hubble started working at the Mount Wilson Observatory in California in 1919, they had just finished installing the Hooker telescope. This was the largest telescope at the time with 100 inch. Hubble started working on the telescope and looked at different stars using Cepheid variables. These are stars that radiate light in a pulsating way making it possible for astronomers to measure distances. With this Hubble concluded that some stars were way too far away to be part of the Milky Way galaxy. In the early 1900’s, astronomers believed that the Milky Way galaxy was all there was. They realised that this galaxy was enormous, but that was all. Now Hubble comes along and says there must be something outside that galaxy. He looked at the Andromeda nebula and other ‘stars’ in the Triangulum constellation. And he came to the only possible conclusion; these items were entire galaxies on their own.
Now, the idea of other galaxies wasn’t entirely new. As early as 1755, Immanuel Kant proposed the existence of other star clusters. But astronomers have since tried very hard to disprove this theory. And when Hubble did his discovery in 1922 or 1923, there were still many astronomers opposing to the idea. He was met with a lot of resistance but he continued to publish his findings. Nowadays, we cannot imagine the opposition to this idea. We even believe there are as many as 100 billion galaxies out there in our night sky.
The universe is growing
In 1929 he published another theory that eventually would become known as Hubble’s Law. In this law it is stated that all galaxies move away from Earth. This was proven by the presence of redshift, which is like the doppler effect, where the wavelength of the radiation increases when moving away. This means that the universe is expanding and that it might be limitless.
Modern day astronomy has accepted all the theories coined by Edwin Hubble. He has drastically changed the way we look at the universe. With that in mind, it does really make sense naming a large telescope after him.