Saturday, June 29, 2013

June 29 - George Ellery Hale

Astronomer George Ellery Hale was born on June 29, 1868, into a wealthy Chicago family. As a teenager he began studying the Sun, and as an undergraduate at MIT he invented an instrument to study key features on the Sun. At the University of Chicago in the 1890s, he established the Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin, which still houses the world's largest refracting telescope used for astronomy. In 1904 he founded the Mount Wilson Observatory, near Pasadena, CA, one of whose reflecting telescopes (named after Hale) is among the most notable in astronomy. He encouraged research in galactic and extragalactic astronomy as well as solar and stellar astrophysics. At Mount Wilson he hired Edwin Hubble, who calculated that the universe is expanding. In 1928 he built the massive 200-inch Hale Telescope at Caltech’s Palomar Observatory (called the “Cathedral of Astronomy”), which was the world’s largest reflecting telescope for more than four decades and was the first to explore the furthest reaches of the known universe.

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