Sunday, July 19, 2009

July 19: Edward Charles Pickering

Edward Charles Pickering
July 19, 1846–February 3, 1919

Edward Charles Pickering was an American astronomer and physicist, brother of William Henry Pickering.

Along with Carl Vogel, Pickering discovered the first spectroscopic binary stars. He wrote Elements of Physical Manipulations (2 vol., 1873–76).

Pickering attended Boston Latin School, and received his B.S. from Harvard in 1865. Later, he served as director of Harvard College Observatory from 1877 to his death in 1919, where he made great leaps forward in the gathering of stellar spectra through the use of photography. At Harvard, he recruited many women to work for him, including Annie Jump Cannon, Henrietta Swan Leavitt, and Antonia Maury. These women, who came to be known as "Pickering's Harem" by the scientific community, made several important discoveries at HCO.

In 1876 he co-founded the Appalachian Mountain Club.

Pickering received the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1886 and 1901), the Henry Draper Medal (1888) and the Bruce Medal (1908)

The Lunar crater Pickering, the crater Pickering Mars and the asteroid 784 Pickeringia are named in his honor.

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