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Astronomer; founding member, American Society for Psychical Research. B. July 19, 1846, Boston, Massachusetts; d. Feb. 3, 1919, Cambridge, Mass. B.S., 1865, Lawrence Scientific School of Harvard University; M.A. (hon.), 1880, Harvard. M. 1874, Lizzie Wadsworth Sparks. Pickerng, who became one of the celebrated astronomers of hs day, taught mathematics and physics at Lawrence (1865-67), was professor of physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1868-77), where he introduced laboratory methods of instruction and encouraged his students to do their own experiments and write research papers; and in 1877 became director of the Harvard Observatory, a post he held for 42 years.

A pioneer and developer of stellar photomerty, Pickering set up methods for measuring the magnitudes of stars on an accepted scale, invented the meridian photometer, supervised the cataloguing of the magnitudes of 80,000 stars on the basis of over two million photometric settings, of which more than half were made by him personally, and established (1891) the Harvard Observatory's auxiliary station at Arequipa, Peru. He received the gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, honorary degress from universities in the United States and Europe, and was an honorary member of scholarly socieities all over the world.

Dr. Pickering was vice-president of the American Society for Psychical Research from 1885 to 1888. He served on the Society's Committee on Thought Transference and took part in the statistical analysis of experiments in telepathy using cards, dice and numbers. With Professor J. M. Peirce he reported on these experiments in the paper Discussion of Returns in Response to Circular No. 4 in the Proceedings of the ASPR (Vol. 1, No. 1, July, 1885), and contributed other papers to the early ASPR Proceedings.

Taken from Helene Pleasants (1964) Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology with Directory and Glossary 1946-1996 NY: Garrett Publications



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