Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society

The Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) is the highest award given by the RAS. The RAS Council have "complete freedom as to the grounds on which it is awarded"[2] and as such it can be awarded for any reason.[3] Past awards have been given for "outstanding personal researches in the fields of astronomy and geophysics" as well as general contributions to astronomy and geophysics "that may be made through leadership in research programmes, through education and through scientific administration". It has been awarded both for research that has taken a lifetime[2] (it has most frequently been given to recognise an extraordinary lifetime achievement)[3] and for specific pieces of research.[2]

Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society
The RAS gold medal awarded to Asaph Hall
Awarded forAchievement in astronomy or geophysics
CountryUnited Kingdom
Reward(s)Medal
First awarded1824[1]
Last awarded2019
Currently held byRobert Kennicutt (astronomy) & Margaret Kivelson (geophysics)
Websitehttps://ras.ac.uk/awards-and-grants/awards 

History

The first Gold Medals were awarded in 1824. Silver medals were also awarded in 1824 and 1827,[1] but that practice was quickly abandoned, instead the RAS established other awards.

In the early years, more than one medal was often awarded in a year, but by 1833 only one medal was being awarded per year. This caused a problem when Neptune was discovered in 1846, because many felt an award should jointly be made to John Couch Adams and Urbain Le Verrier. A controversy arose and no award was made in 1847. The controversy was resolved by giving 12 "testimonial" awards in 1848 to various people including Adams and Le Verrier, and in 1849 awards resumed, with a limit of one per year. Adams and Le Verrier did not get their gold medals until 1866 and 1868, respectively. Adams, who was then President of the RAS, presented Le Verrier with the medal.

In some years, particularly early on, the RAS sometimes decided that there were no suitable nominations and so did not award the Gold Medal. There are therefore 17 years without an award, the most recent being 1942 (on that occasion due to the disruption of World War Two). One medal per year was the usual practise, although two medals were awarded in both 1867 and 1886. To ensure balance in research areas, in 1964 the award was expanded to two medals per year, one in astronomy (including astrophysics, cosmology etc.) and one in geophysics (including planetary science, tectonics etc.), which remains the current system.[3] All recipients are listed below, along with the years when no award was made.

The first woman to receive the Gold Medal was Caroline Herschel in 1828. No other woman received the award until Vera Rubin in 1996. Margaret and Geoffrey Burbidge were jointly awarded the 2005 Gold Medal in astronomy, the first joint award since 1886.

The medal features an image of the 40-foot telescope constructed by Sir William Herschel, the first President of the RAS.

Recipients

YearAstronomyGeophysicsNotesReferences
1824Charles Babbage
Johann Franz Encke
[note 1][1]
1825No award
1826John Herschel
James South
Wilhelm Struve
[1]
1827Francis Baily[note 2][1]
1828Thomas Makdougall Brisbane
James Dunlop
Caroline Herschel
[note 3][1]
1829Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel
William Pearson
Heinrich Christian Schumacher
[1]
1830Johann Franz Encke
William Richardson
[1]
1831Marie-Charles Damoiseau
Henry Kater
[1]
1832No award
1833George Biddell Airy[1]
1834No award
1835Manuel J. Johnson[1]
1836John Herschel[1]
1837Otto A. Rosenberger[1]
1838No award
1839John Wrottesley[1]
1840Jean Plana[1]
1841Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel[1]
1842Peter Andreas Hansen[1]
1843Francis Baily[1]
1844No award
1845William Henry Smyth[1]
1846George Biddell Airy[1]
1847No award
1848No award[note 4][1]
1849William Lassell[1]
1850Otto Wilhelm Struve[1]
1851Annibale de Gasparis[1]
1852Christian August Friedrich Peters[1]
1853John Russell Hind[1]
1854Charles Rümker[1]
1855William Rutter Dawes[1]
1856Robert Grant[1]
1857Heinrich Schwabe[1]
1858Robert Main[1]
1859Richard Christopher Carrington[1]
1860Peter Andreas Hansen[1]
1861Hermann Goldschmidt[1]
1862Warren de la Rue[1]
1863Friedrich Wilhelm Argelander[1]
1864No award
1865George Phillips Bond[1]
1866John Couch Adams[1]
1867William Huggins
William Allen Miller
[1]
1868Urbain Le Verrier[1]
1869Edward James Stone[1]
1870Charles-Eugène Delaunay[1]
1871No award
1872Giovanni Schiaparelli[1]
1873No award
1874Simon Newcomb[1]
1875Heinrich d'Arrest[1]
1876Urbain Le Verrier[1]
1877No award
1878Ercole Dembowski[1]
1879Asaph Hall[1]
1880No award
1881Axel Möller[1]
1882David Gill[1]
1883Benjamin A. Gould[1]
1884Andrew Ainslie Common[1]
1885William Huggins[1]
1886Edward Charles Pickering
Charles Pritchard
[1]
1887George William Hill[1]
1888Arthur Auwers[1]
1889Maurice Loewy[1]
1890No award
1891No award
1892George Howard Darwin[1]
1893Hermann Carl Vogel[1]
1894S. W. Burnham[1]
1895Isaac Roberts[1]
1896Seth Carlo Chandler[1]
1897Edward Emerson Barnard[1]
1898William Frederick Denning[1]
1899Frank McClean[1]
1900Henri Poincaré[1]
1901Edward Charles Pickering[1]
1902Jacobus Kapteyn[1]
1903Hermann Struve[1]
1904George Ellery Hale[1]
1905Lewis Boss[1]
1906William Wallace Campbell[1]
1907Ernest William Brown[1]
1908David Gill[1]
1909Oskar Backlund[1]
1910Friedrich Küstner[1]
1911Philip Herbert Cowell[1]
1912Arthur Robert Hinks[1]
1913Henri-Alexandre Deslandres[1]
1914Max Wolf[1]
1915Alfred Fowler[1]
1916John L. E. Dreyer[1]
1917Walter Sydney Adams[1]
1918John Evershed[1]
1919Guillaume Bigourdan[1]
1920No award
1921Henry Norris Russell[1]
1922James Hopwood Jeans[1]
1923Albert A. Michelson[1]
1924Arthur Eddington[1]
1925Frank Watson Dyson[1]
1926Albert Einstein[1]
1927Frank Schlesinger[1]
1928Ralph Allen Sampson[1]
1929Ejnar Hertzsprung[1]
1930John Stanley Plaskett[1]
1931Willem de Sitter[1]
1932Robert Grant Aitken[1]
1933Vesto Slipher[1]
1934Harlow Shapley[1]
1935E. Arthur Milne[1]
1936Hisashi Kimura[1]
1937Harold Jeffreys[1]
1938William Hammond Wright[1]
1939Bernard Lyot[1]
1940Edwin Hubble[1]
1941No award
1942No award
1943Harold Spencer Jones[1]
1944Otto Struve[1]
1945Bengt Edlén[1]
1946Jan Oort[1]
1947Marcel Minnaert[1]
1948Bertil Lindblad[1]
1949Sydney Chapman[1]
1950Joel Stebbins[1]
1951Anton Pannekoek[1]
1952John Jackson[1]
1953Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar[1]
1954Walter Baade[1]
1955Dirk Brouwer[1]
1956Thomas George Cowling[1]
1957Albrecht Unsöld[1]
1958André Danjon[1]
1959Raymond Arthur Lyttleton[1]
1960Viktor Ambartsumian[1]
1961Herman Zanstra[1]
1962Bengt Strömgren[1]
1963H. H. Plaskett[1]
1964Martin RyleMaurice Ewing[1]
1965Gerald Maurice ClemenceEdward Bullard[1]
1966Ira Sprague BowenHarold Clayton Urey[1]
1967Allan SandageHannes Alfven[1]
1968Fred HoyleWalter Munk[1]
1969Martin SchwarzschildAlbert Thomas Price[1]
1970Horace W. Babcock[1]
1971Richard van der Riet WoolleyFrank Press[1]
1972Fritz ZwickyH. I. S. Thirlaway[1]
1973Edwin SalpeterFrancis Birch[1]
1974Ludwig BiermannK. E. Bullen[1]
1975Jesse GreensteinErnst Öpik[1]
1976William H. McCreaJ. A. Ratcliffe[1]
1977John G. BoltonDavid R. Bates[1]
1978Lyman SpitzerJames Van Allen[1]
1979C. G. WynneLeon Knopoff[1]
1980Maarten SchmidtChaim L. Pekeris[1]
1981Bernard LovellJ. Freeman Gilbert[1]
1982Riccardo GiacconiHarrie Massey[1]
1983M. J. SeatonFred Whipple[1]
1984Yakov Borisovich Zel'dovichS. K. Runcorn[1]
1985Stephen HawkingThomas Gold[1]
1986Alexander DalgarnoGeorge E. Backus[1]
1987Martin ReesTakesi Nagata[1]
1988Cornelis de JagerDon L. Anderson[1]
1989Ken PoundsRaymond Hide[1]
1990B. E. J. PagelJames W. Dungey[1]
1991Vitaly GinzburgG. J. Wasserburg[1]
1992Eugene N. ParkerDan P. McKenzie[1]
1993Donald Lynden-BellPeter Goldreich[1]
1994James E. GunnThomas R. Kaiser[1]
1995Rashid SunyaevJohn T. Houghton[1]
1996Vera RubinKenneth Creer[note 3][1]
1997Donald OsterbrockDonald Farley[1]
1998James PeeblesRobert L. Parker[1]
1999Bohdan PaczyńskiKenneth Budden[1]
2000Leon LucyRobert Hutchison[1][4]
2001Hermann BondiHenry Rishbeth[1]
2002Leon MestelJ. A. Jacobs[1]
2003John BahcallDavid Gubbins[1]
2004Jeremiah P. OstrikerGrenville Turner[1]
2005Margaret Burbidge
Geoffrey Burbidge
Carole Jordan[note 5][1]
2006Simon WhiteStan Cowley[1]
2007John L. CulhaneNigel O. Weiss[1]
2008Joseph SilkBrian Kennett[1]
2009David A. WilliamsEric Priest[1][5]
2010Douglas GoughJohn Woodhouse[1][6]
2011Richard EllisEberhard Grün[1][7]
2012Andy FabianJohn Brown[1][8]
2013Roger BlandfordChris Chapman[1][9]
2014Carlos FrenkJohn Zarnecki[1][10]
2015Michel MayorMike Lockwood[3]
2016John D. BarrowPhilip England[11]
2017Nick KaiserMichele Dougherty[12]
2018James HoughRobert White[13]
2019Robert KennicuttMargaret Kivelson[14]
  1. Silver medalists: Jean-Louis Pons, Charles Rümker
  2. Silver medalists: Mark Beaufoy, William Samuel Stratford
  3. The first woman to receive the Gold Medal was Caroline Herschel in 1828. No other woman did so until Vera Rubin in 1996.
  4. Replaced by testimonial medals, awarded to John Couch Adams, George Biddell Airy, Friedrich Wilhelm Argelander, George Bishop, George Everest, Peter Andreas Hansen, Karl Ludwig Hencke, John Herschel, John Russell Hind, John William Lubbock, Urbain Le Verrier & Maxmilian Weisse
  5. Margaret and Geoffrey Burbidge received the first joint award since 1886

References

  1. "Gold Medal Winners" (PDF). RAS. 2019. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
    "Winners of the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society". RAS. 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  2. "Gold Medal (A)". RAS. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  3. "Winners of the 2015 awards, medals and prizes - full details". 9 January 2015. Archived from the original on 9 January 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  4. "News: Appointments and awards". Astronomy & Geophysics. 41 (4): 7. 2000. Bibcode:2000A&G....41d...7.. doi:10.1046/j.1468-4004.2000.00404-9.x.
  5. "RAS meeting and Community Forum - JENAM 2009". Archived from the original on February 17, 2009. Retrieved 23 April 2009.
  6. "RAS Honours Outstanding Astronomers and Geophysicists". Royal Astronomical Society. Retrieved 25 March 2011.
  7. "RAS honours outstanding astronomers and geophysicists". Royal Astronomical Society. 19 January 2011. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  8. "RAS honours leading astronomers and geophysicists". Royal Astronomical Society. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
  9. "2013 winners of the RAS awards, medals and prizes". Royal Astronomical Society. 10 January 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-01-20. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
  10. "2014 winners of the RAS awards, medals and prizes". Royal Astronomical Society. 10 January 2014. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  11. "RAS honours leading astronomers and geophysicist". RAS. 8 January 2015. Archived from the original on 2016-07-20. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  12. "RAS honours leading astronomers and geophysicists". Royal Astronomical Society. 11 January 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  13. "The Royal Astronomical Society". Archived from the original on 2018-03-01. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  14. Morgan Hollis (9 January 2019). "Leading astronomers and geophysicists honoured by Royal Astronomical Society". Royal Astronomical Society. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
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