Skip to main content



Hubble's Famous Plate of 1923: A Story of Pink Polyethylene


David R. Soderblom
Space Telescope Science Institute, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218

Presented at the 100th Spring Meeting of the AAVSO, May 22, 2011; received March 26, 2012; accepted April 18, 2012


On October 6, 1923, Edwin Hubble used the Mount Wilson 100-inch telescope to take a 45-minute exposure of a field in the Andromeda galaxy. This is the now-famous plate marked with his “VAR!” notation. I will discuss this plate and that notation. I will also tell the story of flying copies of that plate on the deployment mission for HST in 1990 as a Hubble memento and then locating those copies afterwards, and how copies were flown on Servicing Mission 4 on 2009 as well. This has led to an effort in which AAVSO members joined to identify and re-observe that noted star, arguably the most important object in the history of cosmology, but largely ignored since Hubble’s time.

AAVSO 49 Bay State Rd. Cambridge, MA 02138 617-354-0484