Press Release

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) Announces 2008 Award Winners in Astronomy Education and Research

By SpaceRef Editor
May 1, 2008
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San Francisco, California – The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) today announces the eight winners of its 2008 awards for excellence in astronomy research and education.

The 2008 Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal, the ASP’s most prestigious award for lifetime achievement in astronomy, has been awarded to Sidney van den Bergh, Researcher Emeritus, Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Dr. van den Bergh is best known for his distinguished work on galaxies and their stellar contents in a career that has included positions at the Ohio State University and the University of Toronto, where he mentored many students who have since become leaders in numerous fields of stellar and galactic research. His appointment as research scientist at the Canadian Research Council’s Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) led to a lengthy tenure as director of the DAO, during which dramatic increases in staff and productivity were achieved. Van den Bergh has also served as President and Chair of the Board of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Corporation and as Vice President of the International Astronomical Union.

He has made fundamental contributions to studies of local group galaxies, dwarf galaxies and galactic morphology, probing how galaxies change along the Hubble Sequence and as a function of intrinsic luminosity. Van den Bergh has also made significant contributions to the understanding of the extragalactic distance scale, globular and open star clusters, supernovae, and metal abundances and the chemical evolution of the universe. A prolific writer, Dr. van den Bergh has produced hundreds of refereed publications on a variety of astronomical subjects boasting a half-century of impact on international astronomy and astrophysics.

Awarded in most years since 1898, the Bruce Gold Medal is widely recognized as one of astronomy’s most prestigious awards. Previous winners include such influential astronomers as Walter Baade, Edwin Hubble, George Ellery Hale, and Fred Hoyle.

More information on Bruce Medal winner Sidney van den Bergh may be found at:

In addition to the Bruce medal, the ASP has announced the following 2008 awards:

The Maria & Eric Muhlmann Award, for the development of innovative research instruments and techniques to Joss Bland-Hawthorn, School of Physics, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; Karl Glazebrook, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia; and Jean-Charles Cuillandre, Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Corporation, Kamuela, Hawaii for the “Nod and Shuffle” technique. This observational technique allows astronomers to obtain very faint spectra of celestial objects by naturally subtracting the glow of the nighttime sky. The technique has been used successfully in the study of faint galaxies with the Anglo-Australian Telescope, in the Gemini Deep Deep Survey of galaxies in the early universe, and in other applications.

The Robert J. Trumpler Award for an outstanding recent Ph.D. thesis to Anjum Mukadam, Hubble Post-doctoral Fellow, University of Washington at Seattle. As a graduate student at the University of Texas, and in collaboration with Ed Nather, Dr. Mukadam designed and built Argos, a fast, CCD-based, time-series photometer to probe stars, including white dwarfs using the technique of “asteroseismology,” the study of the internal structure of stars through the interpretation of their periods of pulsation. Her work doubled the number of known pulsating white dwarfs, produced more than a dozen scientific papers, and created in Argos an instrument that is also useful for the detection of extrasolar planets as they transit their parent star.

The Richard H. Emmons Award for excellence in college astronomy teaching to Chris Impey, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona. Dr. Impey is nationally known as an astronomy researcher with a commitment to innovative teaching, combining learner-centered interactive techniques with online and classroom instruction. He is the recipient of a dozen university, state and national awards for excellence in teaching, and is the author of several introductory astronomy books and a contributor to others. He has been lauded for his integration of astronomy with philosophy, literature, and the arts.

The Thomas J. Brennan Award for excellence in the teaching of astronomy in grades 9-12, to Wil van der Veen of the New Jersey Astronomy Center for Education at Raritan Valley Community College, Somerville, New Jersey. Dr. van der Veen has developed 16 different astronomy workshops to provide training for New Jersey teachers. His popular sessions have resulted in the training of more than 4,000 New Jersey teachers, many of whom seek additional training to improve their science teaching. He also created a new Project ASTRO and Family ASTRO site in New Jersey, housed at the New Jersey Astronomy Center at Raritan Valley Community College, to train teacher-astronomer teams in the improvement of astronomy and science teaching. He has written numerous grants to support these programs.

The Klumpke-Roberts Award for contributing to the public understanding of astronomy to Dava Sobel of East Hampton, New York, whose successful and highly regarded books on astronomical themes and figures have drawn worldwide acclaim. Galileo’s Daughter explores the context in which Galileo made and defended the crucial astronomical observations that will be celebrated in the upcoming International Year of Astronomy in 2009. Longitude, an international best-seller and the basis of a PBS NOVA program, one of several based on her books, shows how the problem of determining longitude at sea was solved–not by astronomers but by clock-makers. Other books include Is Anyone Out There? (with Frank Drake), Letters to Father, and The Planets. She has written about science for numerous magazines including Audubon, Discover, and The New Yorker, and previously worked the science beat for The New York Times.

The Amateur Achievement Award for significant observational or technological contributions by an amateur astronomer to Steve Mandel of Soquel, California. A successful entrepreneur, author, and communications coach for professional executives, Steve is equally accomplished as an astrophotographer and amateur research scientist. In 2004, he started an amateur research project, the Mandel-Wilson Unexplored Nebulae Project, to discover, catalog and image unexplored nebulae of the Milky Way. This project led to the realization that small-aperture amateur telescopes, equipped with CCD cameras, were uniquely suited to detect large nebular clouds high above the galactic plane. Each year he leads the Advanced Imaging Conference in San Jose, California, bringing astrophotographers from around the world to discuss CCD imaging research projects.

The Las Cumbres Amateur Outreach Award for outstanding public outreach to K-12 students and the public by an amateur astronomer to Gary Fujihara, University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, Hilo, Hawaii. Fujihara is the Science Education and Public Outreach officer for the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy. He is a JPL/NASA Solar System Ambassador, and spends much of his spare time providing informal education to the general public, drawing on his experiences in the musical and graphic arts, software development, and as a former telescope operator for Japan’s Subaru Telescope. Fujihara’s programs include lectures, hands-on education, and amateur telescope observing in a blend of cutting-edge science and ancient Hawaiian culture, and founded the annual AstroDay, drawing more that 10,000 people each year to a celebration of astronomy and its importance in Hawaiian culture.

“This year’s award winners span a remarkable breadth of achievement in research, education, popularization, and amateur accomplishment,” said James Manning, ASP executive director. “We’re very proud to recognize excellence in all of these areas of endeavor, and hope that the example of these remarkable individuals will inspire others to reach for the stars.”

The awards will be presented at the ASP awards banquet on June 3 in St. Louis, Missouri, where the ASP will be meeting in conjunction with the American Astronomical Society at its summer meeting.

Founded in 1889 in San Francisco, the ASP’s mission is to increase public understanding and appreciation of astronomy through scientists, educators, enthusiasts and the public as a vehicle for advancing science literacy and exchange. The ASP publishes both scholarly and educational materials, conducts professional development programs for formal and informal educators, and holds conferences, symposia and workshops for astronomers and educators specializing in education and public outreach. The ASP’s education programs are funded by corporations, private foundations, the National Science Foundation, NASA, private donors, and its own members.

Information regarding the ASP can be found online at Specific information regarding each award and past award winners is located online at

High-resolution images of the award winners may be downloaded at

SpaceRef staff editor.