Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, JoAnn Palmeri, Daniel W. E. Green

Cummings, Edith Eleanor

  • Thomas D. KinmanEmail author
Reference work entry

BornBeatrice, Nebraska, USA, September 1894


American astronomer Edith Eleanor Cummings was an instrumentalist, variable star observer, and pioneer in photoelectric photometry. She constructed a photoelectric photometer for the 12 in. Alvan Clark refractor at the Lick Observatory and used it to study the light curve of Beta Cephei; she showed that this star was not a classical Cepheid (like Delta Cephei) but should be considered in a class by itself.

Edith Cummings was the second daughter born to Marion and Mary Anna (née Griffin) Cummings. An elder sister (Luella) was born in 1889, and a son (Gale) was born in 1897. Mary Anna Cummings died in 1899, and Marion remarried in about 1901. There were three further children from this second marriage.

Marion Cummings (1862–1941) was a corn and grain dealer in Beatrice. He had a college education, although he did not get a college degree.

Edith Cummings entered the University of Kansas at Lawrence and then transferred her credits to...

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I am very grateful to Dr. Charles J. Peterson for providing information about the early life of Cummings and her family. I should also like to thank Dr. Robert P. Kraft for searching the Mary Lea Shane Archives of the University of California at Santa Cruz for the photograph of Cummings and other information about her career in California.

Selected References

  1. Scholar
  2. Edith E. Cummings, 1923, The photoelectric photometer of the Lick Observatory and some results obtained with it. Lick Observatory Bulletin, Vol. XI, Number 349, 99.Google Scholar
  3. J. B. Hearnshaw, 1996, The Measurement of Starlight: Two Centuries of Astronomical Photometry, Cambridge University Press, p. 220.Google Scholar
  4. J. Lankford, 1997, American Astronomy: Communities, Careers and Power, 1859–1940, The University of Chicago Press, p. 292.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Optical Astronomy ObservatoryTucsonUSA