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Qwiz5 Quizbowl Essentials – Edwin Hubble

The number of astronomers who become household names is pretty small. Even among those luminaries, though, Edwin Hubble stands out. American astronomer Edwin Hubble began his career at the Mount Wilson Observatory. His extragalactic observations would be foundational for future astronomers. Time to expand your astronomy knowledge and learn some more about Edwin Hubble!

By analyzing questions, you can see patterns emerge, patterns that will help you answer questions. Qwiz5 is all about those patterns. In each installment of Qwiz5, we take an answer line and look at its five most common clues. Here we explore five clues that will help you answer a tossup on Edwin Hubble.


Hubble is best known today for the space telescope that bears his name. The Hubble Telescope was launched in 1990 from the Space Shuttle Discovery. The telescope is famous for its Deep Field images that capture far distant objects millions of light-years away from Earth. Since we are only now seeing light from millions of years ago, these Deep Field images allow astronomers to see the evolution of the universe.


Hubble’s Constant stems from Hubble’s Law. This statement, based on Hubble’s observations, posits that there is a relationship between an object’s distance from us and the speed at which it is receding from us. Hubble and his colleague Milton Humason attempted to calculate the rate of this recession using stars’ redshift, which is the spectral shift of the light they emit as they distance themselves from the observer.


Hubble’s theories were founded on the pioneering work of American astronomer Henrietta Leavitt. Leavitt was the first astronomer to note the variable brightness of these particular stars. Hubble used these variations to determine how far away the Cepheid Variable stars were.


While observing the distant cosmos, Hubble trained his telescope on what was then-named the Andromeda Nebula in 1924. Hubble was able to calculate our distance from the so-called nebula, and determined that it was far enough away to be a separate star system. These observations proved that the Milky Way was not the only galaxy in the universe.


After he discovered the Andromeda Galaxy, Hubble went on to discover many more galaxies over his career. Hubble developed the first classification system for galaxies. This classification system envisioned that galaxies “began” as elliptical galaxies and over time progressed to become spiral or barred spiral galaxies. The diagram showing this galactic evolution resembled a tuning fork,and was later named the “Hubble Tuning Fork” diagram in honor of his work.


Quizbowl is about learning, not rote memorization, so we encourage you to use this as a springboard for further reading rather than as an endpoint. Here are a few things to check out:

  • Hubble’s closest comrade at Mount Wilson, Milton Humason, deserves more credit than he gets.

  • To learn more about what exactly Cepheid Variable stars are, start here.

  • Ok, so how do we really figure out Hubble's Constant? And why are we still arguing about it?

  • The Hubble Space Telescope Deep Field photographs revealed the history of the universe. Want to see more? Watch this video:


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