25 August 2009

Two, Four, Six, Eight, Who Do We Appreciate

An interesting event happened last May, but I only recently learned of it, thanks to Michael Long, a trustee of the Mount Wilson Institute. When the space shuttle Atlantis went into space last May to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, it took along a very special memento: a century-old basketball that Edwin Hubble used in 1909 while a star player for the University of Chicago. Hubble and his fellow Maroons scored a winning 18-12 victory over Indiana University with the ball. Astronaut John Grunsfeld, also a Chicago alumnus (a PhD in 1988) made the arrangements to take it on the flight with him. On his two previous space telescope missions, Grunsfeld flew with the eyepiece of a telescope that Hubble had peered through at Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin and the cover of Hubble's doctoral dissertation.

Hubble, Class of 1910, had been awarded a scholarship to attend the university partly due to his superb athletic skills. He participated in track (though seldom winning) but did far better in basketball, as his exceptional height for the day, six feet two inches, gave him an advantage playing center. He and his teammates were national champions in 1909. They swept through the Big Ten season and won the national title by defeating the University of Pennsylvania in two games.

Above image: Hubble's winning 1909 basketball aboard the space shuttle Atlantis last May (John Grunsfeld)

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful! I had heard that this was going to happen but had not seen a photo of the basketball in orbit. Thanks for posting this Marcia!