Press Release

Royal Astronomical Society Honors Leading Astronomers & Geophysicists

By SpaceRef Editor
January 13, 2017
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The Royal Astronomical Society is pleased to announce the 2017 winners of its awards, medals and prizes. Each year the RAS recognises significant achievement in the fields of astronomy and geophysics through these awards.

The announcements will be made at the Ordinary Meeting of the society held on Friday 13 January 2017. The winners will be invited to collect their awards at the Society’s National Astronomy Meeting in Hull in July.

The Society’s highest honour is its Gold Medal, which can be awarded for any reason but usually recognises lifetime achievement. Past winners include Albert Einstein, Edwin Hubble, Arthur Eddington and Stephen Hawking. It was first awarded in 1824; since 1964 two have been awarded each year: one for astronomy, and one for geophysics. This year the winners are Prof. Nick Kaiser of the University of Hawaii, and Prof. Michele Dougherty of Imperial College London, the first woman to win the Gold Medal since 2005, and only the fifth to do so since the Society’s foundation in 1820.

In 2016 the Society also introduced two new medals, the Annie Maunder Medal for public engagement, and the Agnes Clerke History Medal. Dr. Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, is the first winner of the Annie Maunder Medal, and Prof. Clive Ruggles of the University of Leicester wins the Agnes Clerke Medal.

Professor John Zarnecki, President of the Royal Astronomical Society, congratulated the winners:

“The recipients of the Royal Astronomical Society’s 2017 awards, medals and prizes reflect the enormously wide range of interests of the Society and its members. From the interior of our Earth through to the Outer Planets of our Solar System and further to our own Galaxy and even to the outer reaches of our universe, all disciplines are represented. The achievements of all of our winners are impressive and we are so pleased to be able to acknowledge them.”

List of winners of the 2017 RAS medals and awards


* Gold Medal: Professor Nick Kaiser, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii
* Eddington Medal: Professor Cathie Clarke, Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge
* Herschel Medal: Professor Simon Lilly, Institute of Astronomy, ETH Zurich
* Jackson-Gwilt Medal: Dr. Ian Parry, Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge
* Agnes Clerke Medal: Professor Clive Ruggles, University of Leicester
* Fowler Award: Dr. Jonathan Pritchard, Imperial College London
* Winton Capital Award: Dr. Cosimo Inserra, Astrophysics Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast
* Group Achievement Award: The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) team
* Service Award: Mr. Derek Fry
* George Darwin Lecture: Professor Catherine Heymans, University of Edinburgh
* Honorary Fellowships: Professor Boonrucksar Soonthornthum, National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand; Professor Michael Thompson, National Center for Atmospheric Research, USA


* Gold Medal: Professor Michele Dougherty, Imperial College London
* Chapman Medal: Dr. Mervyn Freeman, British Antarctic Survey
* Price Medal: Professor Richard Holme, University of Liverpool
* Fowler Award: Dr. Christopher Chen, Imperial College London
* Winton Capital Award: Dr. Zhonghua Yao, Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UCL
* Group Achievement Award: SuperDARN
* Service Award: Professor Richard Harrison, RAL Space
* Harold Jeffreys Lecture: Professor Tim Wright, University of Leeds
* James Dungey Lecture: Professor Christopher Owen, Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UCL
* Honorary Fellowship: Professor Maria Zuber, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

Education, Outreach, and Public Engagement

* Annie Maunder Medal: Dr. Marek Kukula, Royal Observatory Greenwich
* Patrick Moore Medal: Mr. Tim Browett, Robert Gordon College

Dr. Robert Massey
Royal Astronomical Society
+44 (0)20 7292 3979, cell: +44 (0)7802 877699
[email protected]

Dr. Morgan Hollis
Royal Astronomical Society
+44 (0)20 7292 3977
[email protected]

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS,, founded in 1820, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. The RAS organizes scientific meetings, publishes international research and review journals, recognizes outstanding achievements by the award of medals and prizes, maintains an extensive library, supports education through grants and outreach activities and represents UK astronomy nationally and internationally. Its more than 4,000 members (Fellows), a third based overseas, include scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as historians of astronomy and others.

SpaceRef staff editor.