Vesto Slipher and the discovery of the expanding universe

UCT, Maths Building, M320
Wed, 02/04/2014 - 13:00 - 14:00
John Peacock

We have known about the expanding universe for around a century, but the story of this discovery has been obscured by a number of myths. Chief among these has been the role attributed to Edwin Hubble, and far too little credit has been given to the true pioneers in this field. More than anyone, the figure of Vesto Slipher stands out. Working in isolation at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, he was the first to prove the true nature of galaxies and demonstrate that they are in motion (including the motion of our own Milky Way). Slipher's first results were published in 1913, and this recent centenary gives good reason to highlight Slipher's achievements, and how they were used by the astronomers who came after him.