William Henry Pickering

by catcher Sunday, July 22, 2012 5:20 AM

'The Lunatic'

Born: the 15th February 1858, Beacon Hill, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Died: 16th January 1938, Mandeville, Jamaica

William Henry Pickering was the younger brother of Edward Charles Pickering and a great pioneer of Astrophotography in his own right; producing in 1903 the first ever complete Photographic Atlas of the Moon, seven years before Loewy and Puiseux completed the publication of their ‘Atlas Photographique de la Lune’ in its entirety.

William Henry Pickering (1858-1938) followed in the footsteps of his elder brother, Edward Charles Pickering (1846-1919), and became a great astronomer. It was in fact William Henry who introduced his more famous sibling to astronomical photography and set him on his path which led to some of the most important work ever carried out in the new science of Astrophysics.

In contrast, William Henry’s work led him to nearer and more traditional areas of study – the Sun, Moon and Planets; and not the distant stars; about which man knew so very little, a situation Edward Charles Pickering was determined to alter. Although, he lived in the shadow of his illustrious brother, William Henry made his own mark in Astrophotography.

In 1903 he published 'The Moon', which contained images of the whole of the visible portion of our nearest astronomical neighbour of a quality somewhat short of the great heights reached by Maurice Loewy (1833-1907) and Pierre Henri Puiseux (1855-1928); who not only had the resources of the Paris Observatory to call upon, but a telescope which far surpassed anything available to Pickering.

However, Pickering’s Atlas includes the same areas, photographed under different illuminations according to the phase of the Moon, something which is of great benefit to the observer; as is also the four quadrant maps and overlays to be found in its pages.

To read more on his life and work read the eBook chapter on William Henry Pickering or buy the Book 'Catchers of the Light'.

The Mare Imbrium, Appenine Mountain, Mare Frigoris Region of the Moon, William Henry Pickering

Buy the eBook or Printed Book at the 'Catchers of the Light' shop.


Pioneers of Astrophotography

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Stefan Hughes began his career as a professional astronomer, gaining a 1st Class Honours degree in Astronomy from the University of Leicester in 1974 and his PhD four years later on the 'Resonance Orbits of Artificial Satellites due to Lunisolar Perturbations', which was published as a series of papers in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. After graduating he became a Research fellow in Astronomy, followed by a spell as a lecturer in Applied Mathematics at Queen Mary College, London. Then came a ten year long career as an IT Consultant. In 'mid life' he spent several years retraining as a Genealogist, Record Agent and Architectural Historian, which he practiced for a number of years before moving to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where for the past ten years he has been imaging the heavens, as well as researching and writing the 'Catchers of the Light' - A History of Astrophotography.