Pickering, Edward Charles

Pickering, Edward Charles,

1846–1919, American astronomer and physicist, b. Boston, grad. Harvard (B.S., 1865); brother of W. H. PickeringPickering, William Henry,
1858–1938, American astronomer, b. Boston, grad. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (B.S., 1879). He taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1880–87) and at Harvard Observatory.
..... Click the link for more information.
. He was professor of physics (1868–77) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was the first in the United States to initiate general instruction in physics in a laboratory equipped with instruments and apparatus. The results of work in photographic photometry and spectroscopy done under his direction at the Harvard Observatory are recorded in more than a quarter of a million plates; the observatory was notable for its use of women as assistants, some of whom made noteworthy contributions to the field. Pickering devised several instruments, including the meridian photometer, used in the measurements. He set up a station in Arequipa, Peru, to observe the southern sky. In addition to editing 70 volumes (1855–1919) of the Annals of Harvard Observatory, he wrote Elements of Physical Manipulations (2 vol., 1873–76).


See D. Sobel, The Glass Universe (2016).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Pickering, Edward Charles


Born July 19, 1846, in Boston, Mass.; died Feb. 3, 1919, in Cambridge, Mass. American astronomer.

Pickering was a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1867 to 1877 and director of the Harvard Observatory from 1877 to 1917. His research was concerned chiefly with astrophotometry and stellar spectroscopy. Under his direction, a system by which stars could be classified according to their spectral characteristics was developed. With the American astronomer A. Maury, Pickering discovered the first spectroscopic binaries. He also studied variable stars.


Baily, S. F. “Biographical Memoir of Edward Charles Pickering, 1846-1919.” Biographical Memoirs, 1934, vol. 15, memoir 5. (Contains bibliography.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Pickering, Edward Charles

(1846–1919) astronomer; born in Boston, Mass. (brother of William Henry Pickering). After graduating from Harvard's Lawrence Scientific School (1865), he taught physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1867–76) where he pioneered in teaching physics by emphasizing laboratory experiments. He then became the director of the Harvard College Observatory (1877–1919), where he pioneered in applying the knowledge and tools of physics to the study of stars—using photometry to calculate the magnitude of stars, using spectroscopy to study star composition. He supervised a large staff—many of them women—to catalogue and compute the magnitude of 80,000 stars and built up a collection of some 300,000 photographs of stars.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.