Reference Work Entry

Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

pp 1028-1030


Humason, Milton Lassell

  • Virginia TrimbleAffiliated withUniversity of California, Irvine School of Physical Sciences Email author 
  • , Eugene F. MiloneAffiliated withUniversity of Calgary

BornDodge Center, Minnesota, USA, 19 August 1891

DiedMendocino, California, USA, 18 June 1972

American observational astronomer Milton Humason is eponymized in the Humason-Zwicky stars, but his most important contribution was undoubtedly the exposure of spectrograms of large numbers of faint galaxies on the Mount Wilson Observatory 100-in. and Palomar Mountain Observatory 200-in. telescopes, which were used to estimate values of the Hubble constant from 1929 to 1956, including values reported by Edwin Hubble himself. Humason had roughly an eighth-grade education, plus an honorary D.Sc. (1950) from Lund Observatory. He married Helen Dowd in 1910 or 1911, and they had one son.

The involvement of Milton Humason with Mount Wilson Observatory began during the construction of the 100-in. telescope (which saw first light in 1917). Humason was a mule packer and driver hauling equipment and supplies up the 10-grade dirt road. When the telescope was completed, he was hired as a janitor, and, 2 year ...

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