Slipher, Vesto Melvin

Slipher, Vesto Melvin

(slī`fər), 1875–1969, American astronomer, b. Mulberry, Ind. From 1901 he was at Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Ariz., where he served as director (1917–54). Much of his attention was devoted to the investigation of astronomical spectroscopy, in particular to the rotations and atmospheres of planets and nebulae. His major contribution was determining that the spectra of the vast majority of external galaxies had red shiftsred shift
or redshift,
in astronomy, the systematic displacement of individual lines in the spectrum of a celestial object toward the red, or longer wavelength, end of the visible spectrum. The effect was discovered by V. M. Slipher of Lowell Observatory.
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. This crucial discovery laid the foundation for Hubble's lawHubble's law,
in astronomy, statement that the distances between galaxies (see galaxy) or clusters of galaxies are continuously increasing and that therefore the universe is expanding.
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 and the theory of the expansion of the universe. His brother, Earl C. Slipher, 1883–1964, was a noted planetary astronomer who also worked at the Lowell Observatory. His many years of observations of the planet Mars were published in 1962 as The Photographic Story of Mars.
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Slipher, Vesto Melvin

(1875–1969) astronomer; born in Mulberry, Ind. At the Lowell Observatory in Arizona (1901–69; director from 1917, emeritus from 1953), this highly honored astronomer led two solar eclipse expeditions, participated in the search that found Pluto (1930), and determined the rotations of several planets.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.