World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article
 

William Henry Pickering

William Henry Pickering
Pickering in 1909
Born February 15, 1858
Boston, Massachusetts
Died January 16, 1938(1938-01-16) (aged 79)
Mandeville, Jamaica
Fields Astronomy
Education Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1897)
Notable awards Lalande Prize (1905)
Prix Jules Janssen (1909)

William Henry Pickering (February 15, 1858 – January 16, 1938) was an American astronomer.[1] Pickering constructed and established several observatories or astronomical observation stations, notably including Percival Lowell's Flagstaff Observatory. He led solar eclipse expeditions and studied craters on the Moon, and hypothesized that changes in the appearance of the crater Eratosthenes were due to "lunar insects".[2] He spent much of the later part of his life at his private observatory in Jamaica.

Contents

  • Biography 1
  • Awards 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Biography

He was born on February 15, 1858 in Boston, Massachusetts. His brother was Edward Charles Pickering.

He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1879 then became an instructor in physics from 1880 to 1887.[1]

He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1883 at age 25.[3]

He discovered Saturn's ninth moon Phoebe in 1899 from plates taken in 1898. He produced a photographic atlas of the Moon: The Moon : A Summary of the Existing Knowledge of our Satellite in 1903.

He believed he discovered a tenth moon in 1905 from plates taken in 1904, which he called "Themis". For this discovery he was awarded the Lalande Prize of the French Academy of Sciences in 1906. "Themis" was later shown to not exist.

Following Pacific Ocean lies. He also proposed a version of continental drift before Alfred Wegener where America, Asia, Africa, and Europe once formed a single continent, which broke up because of the separation of the moon. [4]

In 1908 he made a statement regarding the possibility of airplanes that had not yet been invented, saying that "a popular fantasy is to suppose that flying machines could be used to drop dynamite on the enemy in time of war".

In 1919, he predicted the existence and position of a Planet X based on anomalies in the positions of Uranus and Neptune but a search of Mount Wilson Observatory photographs failed to find the predicted planet. Pluto was later discovered at Flagstaff by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930, but in any case it is now known that Pluto's mass is far too small to have appreciable gravitational effects on Uranus or Neptune, and the anomalies are accounted for when today's much more accurate values of planetary masses are used in calculating orbits. When the planet was named, he interpreted its symbol as a monogram referring to himself and Lowell by the phrase "Pickering-Lowell".[5]

He claimed to have found vegetation on the moon in 1921.[6]

In 1923 he retired from Harvard University.[7] He died on January 16, 1938 in Mandeville, Jamaica.[1][8]

Awards

He won the Prix Lalande in 1905 and the Prix Jules Janssen in 1909. The asteroid 784 Pickeringia, and the craters Pickering on the Moon and Pickering on Mars, are jointly named after him and his brother Edward Charles Pickering.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b c d "William Henry Pickering". New International Encyclopedia 18. 1918. p. 605. He was born in Boston and in 1879 graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was an assistant and instructor in physics in 1880-1887. In the latter year he was appointed assistant professor of astronomy at the Harvard Observatory. Pickering led eclipse expeditions to Colorado (1878), Grenada (1886), California (1889), Chile (1893), and Georgia (1900); discovered Phoebe, the ninth satellite of Saturn, in 1899, and later Themis, the tenth satellite; made lunar observations in California in 1904; and visited Hawaii (1905) and the Azores (1907). He received the Lalande prize in 1905 and the Janssen medal in 1909. His publications include: Guide to Mount Washington Range (1882); The Moon (1903); Lunar and Hawaiian Physical Features Compared (1906) 
  2. ^ Moore, Patrick (1999). The wandering astronomer. Bristol; Philadelphia: Institute of Physics Pub.  
  3. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter P" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 22 April 2011. 
  4. ^ William Henry Pickering (1907). "The Place of Origin of the Moon - The Volcani Problems". Popular Astronomy 15: 274–287.  
  5. ^ Pickering W. H. (1930). "The discovery of Pluto".  
  6. ^ "Says 2 Crops A Day Grow On The Moon. Prof. Pickering Is Convinced Markings Are Caused by Vegetation in the Craters. Field Patterns Traced. Criticises Astronomers for Assuming Life There Is Impossible. Easier to Study Than Mars". The New York Times. October 9, 1921. 
  7. ^ "Prof. Pickering To Resign. Astronomer Will Be Made Assistant Professor Emeritus at Harvard".  
  8. ^ "Prof. Pickering, 79, Astronomer, Dead. Discoverer of Planet Phoebe in 1899 Is Stricken at Mandeville, Jamaica".  

External links

Obituaries
  • (1938) 15732JRASC (one paragraph)
  • (1939) 32899MNRAS
  • (1938) 12250PASP
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.