Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society

Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society

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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
Neptune
Neptune is the eighth and farthest planet from the Sun in the Solar System. Named for the Roman god of the sea, it is the fourth-largest planet by diameter and the third largest by mass. Neptune is 17 times the mass of Earth and is slightly more massive than its near-twin Uranus, which is 15 times...

 was discovered in 1846, because many felt an award should jointly be made to John Couch Adams
John Couch Adams
John Couch Adams was a British mathematician and astronomer. Adams was born in Laneast, near Launceston, Cornwall, and died in Cambridge. The Cornish name Couch is pronounced "cooch"....

 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, as President, presented Le Verrier with the medal.

The practice of awarding one medal a year continued until 1963, although two medals were awarded in both 1867 and 1886 and in a few years no award was made. Since 1964 there have been two awards in most years, one for astronomy and one for geophysics
Geophysics
Geophysics is the physics of the Earth and its environment in space; also the study of the Earth using quantitative physical methods. The term geophysics sometimes refers only to the geological applications: Earth's shape; its gravitational and magnetic fields; its internal structure and...

.

Gold Medal laureates



  • 1824 Charles Babbage
    Charles Babbage
    Charles Babbage, FRS was an English mathematician, philosopher, inventor and mechanical engineer who originated the concept of a programmable computer...

    , Johann Franz Encke
    Johann Franz Encke
    Johann Franz Encke was a German astronomer. Among his activities, he worked on the calculation of the periods of comets and asteroids, measured the distance from the earth to the sun, and made observations on the planet Saturn.-Biography:Encke was born in Hamburg, where his father was a...

  • 1826 John Herschel
    John Herschel
    Sir John Frederick William Herschel, 1st Baronet KH, FRS ,was an English mathematician, astronomer, chemist, and experimental photographer/inventor, who in some years also did valuable botanical work...

    , James South
    James South
    Sir James South was a British astronomer.He helped found the Astronomical Society of London, and it was under his name as president of the society from 1831 to 1832 that a petition was successfully submitted to obtain a royal charter in 1831, whereupon it became the Royal Astronomical...

    , Wilhelm Struve
  • 1827 Francis Baily
    Francis Baily
    Francis Baily was an English astronomer, most famous for his observations of 'Baily's beads' during an eclipse of the Sun.-Life:Baily was born at Newbury in Berkshire in 1774...

  • 1828 Thomas Makdougall Brisbane, James Dunlop
    James Dunlop
    James Dunlop was an astronomer's assistant who was hired by Sir Thomas Brisbane to work at his private observatory, once located at Paramatta , New South Wales, about twenty-three kilometres west of Sydney, Australia during the 1820s and 1830s...

    , Caroline Herschel
    Caroline Herschel
    Caroline Lucretia Herschel was a German-British astronomer, the sister of astronomer Sir Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel with whom she worked throughout both of their careers. Her most significant contribution to astronomy was the discovery of several comets and in particular the periodic comet...

  • 1829 William Pearson
    William Pearson
    William Pearson may refer to:* William Pearson , English astronomer who helped found the Royal Astronomical Society* Charles William Pearson , pioneer Anglican missionary in Uganda...

    , Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel, Heinrich Christian Schumacher
    Heinrich Christian Schumacher
    Heinrich Christian Schumacher was a German-Danish astronomer.-Biography:He was born at Bramstedt, in Holstein, and studied at Kiel, Jena, Copenhagen, and Göttingen. In 1810, he became adjunct professor of astronomy in Copenhagen...

  • 1830 William Richardson, Johann Franz Encke
    Johann Franz Encke
    Johann Franz Encke was a German astronomer. Among his activities, he worked on the calculation of the periods of comets and asteroids, measured the distance from the earth to the sun, and made observations on the planet Saturn.-Biography:Encke was born in Hamburg, where his father was a...

  • 1831 Henry Kater
    Henry Kater
    Henry Kater was an English physicist of German descent.-Early life:He was born at Bristol. At first he intended to study law; but he gave up the idea on his father's death in 1794. He entered the army, obtaining a commission in the 12th Regiment of Foot, then stationed in India, where he assisted...

    , Marie-Charles Damoiseau
    Marie-Charles Damoiseau
    Baron Marie-Charles-Théodore de Damoiseau de Montfort was a French astronomer.Damoiseau left France during the French Revolution and worked as assistant director of the Lisbon Observatory. He returned to France in 1807.In 1825, he was elected a member of the French Academy of Sciences...

  • 1833 George Biddell Airy
    George Biddell Airy
    Sir George Biddell Airy PRS KCB was an English mathematician and astronomer, Astronomer Royal from 1835 to 1881...

  • 1835 Manuel J. Johnson
  • 1836 John Herschel
    John Herschel
    Sir John Frederick William Herschel, 1st Baronet KH, FRS ,was an English mathematician, astronomer, chemist, and experimental photographer/inventor, who in some years also did valuable botanical work...

  • 1837 Otto A. Rosenberger
  • 1839 John Wrottesley
    John Wrottesley, 2nd Baron Wrottesley
    John Wrottesley, 2nd Baron Wrottesley FRS FRAS was an English astronomer.Wrottesley was the son of John Wrottesley, 1st Baron Wrottesley, and his first wife Lady Caroline Bennet, daughter of Charles Bennet, 4th Earl of Tankerville. He succeeded his father in the barony on March 16, 1841...

  • 1840 Giovanni Plana
  • 1841 Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel
  • 1842 Peter Andreas Hansen
    Peter Andreas Hansen
    Peter Andreas Hansen was a Danish astronomer, was born at Tønder, Schleswig.-Biography:The son of a goldsmith, Hansen learned the trade of a watchmaker at Flensburg, and exercised it at Berlin and Tønder, 1818–1820...

  • 1843 Francis Baily
    Francis Baily
    Francis Baily was an English astronomer, most famous for his observations of 'Baily's beads' during an eclipse of the Sun.-Life:Baily was born at Newbury in Berkshire in 1774...

  • 1845 William Henry Smyth
    William Henry Smyth
    William Henry Smyth was an English sailor, hydrographer, astronomer and numismatist.-Private Life:...

  • 1846 George Biddell Airy
    George Biddell Airy
    Sir George Biddell Airy PRS KCB was an English mathematician and astronomer, Astronomer Royal from 1835 to 1881...

  • 1849 William Lassell
    William Lassell
    William Lassell FRS was an English merchant and astronomer.Born in Bolton and educated in Rochdale after the death of his father, he was apprenticed from 1814 to 1821 to a merchant in Liverpool. He then made his fortune as a beer brewer, which enabled him to indulge his interest in astronomy...

  • 1850 Otto Wilhelm Struve
  • 1851 Annibale de Gasparis
    Annibale de Gasparis
    Annibale de Gasparis was an Italian astronomer. From 1864 to 1889 he was the director of the Astronomical Observatory of Capodimonte in Naples.He won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1851....

  • 1852 Christian August Friedrich Peters
    Christian August Friedrich Peters
    Christian August Friedrich Peters was a German astronomer. He was the father of astronomer Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Peters.He was born in Hamburg and died in Kiel....

  • 1853 John Russell Hind
    John Russell Hind
    John Russell Hind FRS was an English astronomer.- Life and work :John Russell Hind was born in 1823 in Nottingham, the son of lace manufacturer John Hind, and was educated at Nottingham High School...

  • 1854 Charles Rümker
  • 1855 William Rutter Dawes
    William Rutter Dawes
    William Rutter Dawes was an English astronomer.Dawes was born in West Sussex, the son of William Dawes, also an astronomer, who travelled to the colony of New South Wales on the First Fleet in 1788....

  • 1856 Robert Grant
    Robert Grant (astronomer)
    Robert Grant was a Scottish astronomer.Overcoming health problems and financial difficulties, he published in 1852 the complete text of his book The History of Physical Astronomy from the Earliest Ages to the Middle of the Nineteenth Century...

  • 1857 Heinrich Schwabe
    Heinrich Schwabe
    Samuel Heinrich Schwabe a German astronomer remembered for his work on sunspots.Schwabe was born at Dessau. At first an apothecary, he turned his attention to astronomy, and in 1826 commenced his observations on sunspots. Schwabe was trying to discover a new planet inside the orbit of Mercury...

  • 1858 Robert Main
    Robert Main
    The Reverend Robert Main was an English astronomer.Born in Kent, the eldest son of Thomas Main, Robert Main attended school in Portsea before studying mathematics at Queens' College, Cambridge, where he graduated as sixth wrangler in 1834...

  • 1859 Richard Christopher Carrington
    Richard Christopher Carrington
    Richard Christopher Carrington was an English amateur astronomer whose 1859 astronomical observations demonstrated the existence of solar flares as well as suggesting their electrical influence upon the Earth and its aurorae; and whose 1863 records of sunspot observations revealed the differential...

  • 1860 Peter Andreas Hansen
    Peter Andreas Hansen
    Peter Andreas Hansen was a Danish astronomer, was born at Tønder, Schleswig.-Biography:The son of a goldsmith, Hansen learned the trade of a watchmaker at Flensburg, and exercised it at Berlin and Tønder, 1818–1820...

  • 1861 Hermann Goldschmidt
  • 1862 Warren de la Rue
    Warren de la Rue
    Warren De la Rue was a British astronomer and chemist, most famous for his pioneering work in astronomical photography.-Biography:...

  • 1863 Friedrich Wilhelm Argelander
    Friedrich Wilhelm Argelander
    Friedrich Wilhelm August Argelander was a German astronomer. He is known for his determinations of stellar brightnesses, positions, and distances.- Life and work :...

  • 1865 George Phillips Bond
    George Phillips Bond
    George Phillips Bond was an American astronomer. He was the son of William Cranch Bond. Some sources give his year of birth as 1826....

  • 1866 John Couch Adams
    John Couch Adams
    John Couch Adams was a British mathematician and astronomer. Adams was born in Laneast, near Launceston, Cornwall, and died in Cambridge. The Cornish name Couch is pronounced "cooch"....

  • 1867 William Huggins
    William Huggins
    Sir William Huggins, OM, KCB, FRS was an English amateur astronomer best known for his pioneering work in astronomical spectroscopy.-Biography:...

    , William Allen Miller
    William Allen Miller
    William Allen Miller FRS was a British scientist.He was born in Ipswich, Suffolk and educated at Ackworth School and King's College London....

  • 1868 Urbain Le Verrier
  • 1869 Edward James Stone
    Edward James Stone
    Edward James Stone was an English astronomer.He was born in Notting Hill, London to Roger and Elizabeth Stone...

  • 1870 Charles-Eugène Delaunay
    Charles-Eugène Delaunay
    Charles-Eugène Delaunay was a French astronomer and mathematician. His lunar motion studies were important in advancing both the theory of planetary motion and mathematics.-Life:...

  • 1872 Giovanni Schiaparelli
    Giovanni Schiaparelli
    Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli was an Italian astronomer and science historian. He studied at the University of Turin and Berlin Observatory. In 1859-1860 he worked in Pulkovo Observatory and then worked for over forty years at Brera Observatory...

  • 1874 Simon Newcomb
    Simon Newcomb
    Simon Newcomb was a Canadian-American astronomer and mathematician. Though he had little conventional schooling, he made important contributions to timekeeping as well as writing on economics and statistics and authoring a science fiction novel.-Early life:Simon Newcomb was born in the town of...

  • 1875 Heinrich d'Arrest
  • 1876 Urbain Le Verrier
  • 1878 Ercole Dembowski
    Ercole Dembowski
    Ercole Dembowski was an Italian astronomer.He was born in Milan. He inherited the title of "Baron" as the son of Jan Dembowski , one of Napoleon's Polish generals. He served in the navy of Austria-Hungary until 1843.He was a tireless observer of double stars and made tens of thousands of...

  • 1879 Asaph Hall
    Asaph Hall
    Asaph Hall III was an American astronomer who is most famous for having discovered the moons of Mars in 1877...

  • 1881 Axel Möller
    Axel Möller
    Didrik Magnus Axel Möller was a Swedish astronomer.He matriculated as a student at Lund University in 1846, received his Ph.D. in 1853 and was Professor of Astronomy there from 1863 until 1895....

  • 1882 David Gill
    David Gill (astronomer)
    Sir David Gill FRS was a Scottish astronomer who is known for measuring astronomical distances, for astrophotography, and for geodesy. He spent much of his career in South Africa.- Life and work :...

  • 1883 Benjamin A. Gould
  • 1884 Andrew Ainslie Common
    Andrew Ainslie Common
    Andrew Ainslie Common FRS was an English amateur astronomer best known for his pioneering work in astrophotography.-Biography:...

  • 1885 William Huggins
    William Huggins
    Sir William Huggins, OM, KCB, FRS was an English amateur astronomer best known for his pioneering work in astronomical spectroscopy.-Biography:...

  • 1886 Edward Charles Pickering
    Edward Charles Pickering
    Edward Charles Pickering was an American astronomer and physicist, brother of William Henry Pickering.Along with Carl Vogel, Pickering discovered the first spectroscopic binary stars. He wrote Elements of Physical Manipulations .Pickering attended Boston Latin School, and received his B.S. from...

    , Charles Pritchard
    Charles Pritchard
    Charles Pritchard was a British astronomer.He was born at Alberbury, Shropshire. At sixteen he was enrolled as a sizar at St John's College, Cambridge, graduating in 1830 as fourth wrangler. In 1832 he was elected a fellow of his college, and in the following year he was ordained, and became head...

  • 1887 George William Hill
    George William Hill
    George William Hill , was an American astronomer and mathematician.Hill was born in New York City, New York to painter and engraver John William Hill. and Catherine Smith Hill. He moved to West Nyack with his family when he was eight years old. After attending high school, Hill graduated from...

  • 1888 Arthur Auwers
    Arthur Auwers
    Georg Friedrich Julius Arthur von Auwers was a German astronomer.Auwers was born in Göttingen, attended the University of Göttingen and worked at the University of Königsberg. He specialized in astrometry, making very precise measurements of stellar positions and motions...

  • 1889 Maurice Loewy
    Maurice Loewy
    Maurice Loewy was a French astronomer.Born in Mariánské Lázne, in what is now the Czech Republic, Loewy's Jewish parents moved to Vienna in 1841 to escape the antisemitism of their home town. Loewy became an assistant at the Vienna Observatory, working on celestial mechanics...

  • 1892 George Howard Darwin
  • 1893 Hermann Carl Vogel
    Hermann Carl Vogel
    Hermann Carl Vogel was a German astronomer. He was born in Leipzig, Kingdom of Saxony.Vogel pioneered the use of the spectroscope in astronomy...

  • 1894 S. W. Burnham
  • 1895 Isaac Roberts
    Isaac Roberts
    Isaac Roberts was a Welsh engineer and business man best known for his work as an amateur astronomer, pioneering the field of astrophotography of nebulae. He was a member of the Liverpool Astronomical Society in England and was a fellow of the Royal Geological Society...

  • 1896 Seth Carlo Chandler
    Seth Carlo Chandler
    Seth Carlo Chandler, Jr. was an American astronomer.He was born in Boston, Massachusetts. During his last year in high school he performed mathematical computations for Benjamin Peirce, of the Harvard College Observatory.After graduating, he became the assistant of Benjamin A. Gould...

  • 1897 Edward Emerson Barnard
  • 1898 William Frederick Denning
    William Frederick Denning
    William Frederick Denning was a British astronomer.Denning devoted a great deal of time to searching for comets, and discovered several including the periodic comet 72P/Denning-Fujikawa and the lost comet D/1894 F1...

  • 1899 Frank McClean
    Frank McClean
    Frank McClean, FRS was a British astronomer and pioneer of objective prism spectrography.His father was the engineer J. R. McClean, FRS. Graduating from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1859, Frank McClean was a Bachelor Scholar at Trinity for the next three years...

  • 1900 Henri Poincaré
    Henri Poincaré
    Jules Henri Poincaré was a French mathematician, theoretical physicist, engineer, and a philosopher of science...

  • 1901 Edward Charles Pickering
    Edward Charles Pickering
    Edward Charles Pickering was an American astronomer and physicist, brother of William Henry Pickering.Along with Carl Vogel, Pickering discovered the first spectroscopic binary stars. He wrote Elements of Physical Manipulations .Pickering attended Boston Latin School, and received his B.S. from...

  • 1902 Jacobus Kapteyn
    Jacobus Kapteyn
    Jacobus Cornelius Kapteyn, was a Dutch astronomer, best known for his extensive studies of the Milky Way and as the first discoverer of evidence for galactic rotation....

  • 1903 Hermann Struve
    Hermann Struve
    Karl Hermann Struve was a Russian astronomer. In Russian, his name is sometimes given as German Ottovich Struve or German Ottonovich Struve ....

  • 1904 George Ellery Hale
    George Ellery Hale
    George Ellery Hale was an American solar astronomer.-Biography:Hale was born in Chicago, Illinois. He was educated at MIT, at the Observatory of Harvard College, , and at Berlin . As an undergraduate at MIT, he is known for inventing the spectroheliograph, with which he made his discovery of...

  • 1905 Lewis Boss
    Lewis Boss
    -Life:He was born in Providence, Rhode Island and attended secondary school at the Lapham Institute in North Scituate and the New Hampton Institution in New Hampshire. In 1870 he graduated from Dartmouth College, then went to work as a clerk for the U.S. Government. He served as an assistant...

  • 1906 William Wallace Campbell
    William Wallace Campbell
    William Wallace Campbell was an American astronomer, and director of Lick Observatory from 1900 to 1930. He specialized in spectroscopy.-Biography:...

  • 1907 Ernest William Brown
    Ernest William Brown
    Ernest William Brown FRS was a British mathematician and astronomer, who spent the majority of his career working in the United States....

  • 1908 David Gill
    David Gill (astronomer)
    Sir David Gill FRS was a Scottish astronomer who is known for measuring astronomical distances, for astrophotography, and for geodesy. He spent much of his career in South Africa.- Life and work :...

  • 1909 Oskar Backlund
    Oskar Backlund
    Johan Oskar Backlund was a Swedish-Russian astronomer. His name is sometimes given as Jöns Oskar Backlund, however even contemporary Swedish sources give "Johan". In Russia, where he spent his entire career, he is known as Oskar Andreevich Baklund...

  • 1910 Friedrich Küstner
  • 1911 Philip Herbert Cowell
    Philip Herbert Cowell
    Philip Herbert Cowell was a British astronomer.Philip Herbert Cowell was born in calcutta, India and educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. He became second chief assistant at the Royal Greenwich Observatory in 1896 and later became the Superintendent of HM Nautical Almanac Office during...

  • 1912 Arthur Robert Hinks
    Arthur Robert Hinks
    Arthur Robert Hinks, CBE, FRS was a British astronomer and geographer..As an astronomer, he is best known for his work in determining the distance from the Sun to the Earth from 1900–1909: for this achievement, he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society and was elected a...

  • 1913 Henri-Alexandre Deslandres
    Henri-Alexandre Deslandres
    Henri Alexandre Deslandres was a French astronomer, director of the Meudon and Paris Observatories.Deslandres' undergraduate years at the École Polytechnique were played out against the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War and the chaos of the Paris Commune so, on graduation in 1874, he responded...

  • 1914 Max Wolf
    Max Wolf
    Maximilian Franz Joseph Cornelius Wolf was a German astronomer and a pioneer in the field of astrophotography...

  • 1915 Alfred Fowler
    Alfred Fowler
    Alfred Fowler, FRS was an English astronomer. Not to be confused with American astrophysicist William Alfred Fowler....

  • 1916 John L. E. Dreyer
  • 1917 Walter Sydney Adams
    Walter Sydney Adams
    Walter Sydney Adams was an American astronomer.-Life and work:He was born in Antioch, Syria to missionary parents, and was brought to the U.S. in 1885 He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1898, then continued his education in Germany...

  • 1918 John Evershed
    John Evershed
    John Evershed was an English astronomer. He was the first to observe radial motions in sunspots, a phenomenon known as the Evershed effect....

  • 1919 Guillaume Bigourdan
    Guillaume Bigourdan
    Camille Guillaume Bigourdan was a French astronomer.Bigourdan was born at Sistels, Tarn-et-Garonne. In 1877 he was appointed by Félix Tisserand as assistant astronomer at the Toulouse Observatory, and in 1879 followed Tisserand to the Paris Observatory when the latter became director there.He...

  • 1921 Henry Norris Russell
    Henry Norris Russell
    Henry Norris Russell was an American astronomer who, along with Ejnar Hertzsprung, developed the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram . In 1923, working with Frederick Saunders, he developed Russell–Saunders coupling which is also known as LS coupling.-Biography:Russell was born in 1877 in Oyster Bay, New...

  • 1922 James Hopwood Jeans
  • 1923 Albert A. Michelson
    Albert Abraham Michelson
    Albert Abraham Michelson was an American physicist known for his work on the measurement of the speed of light and especially for the Michelson-Morley experiment. In 1907 he received the Nobel Prize in Physics...

  • 1924 Arthur Eddington
  • 1925 Frank Watson Dyson
    Frank Watson Dyson
    Sir Frank Watson Dyson, KBE, FRS was an English astronomer and Astronomer Royal who is remembered today largely for introducing time signals from Greenwich, England, and for the role he played in testing Einstein's theory of general relativity.- Biography :Dyson was born in Measham, near...

  • 1926 Albert Einstein
    Albert Einstein
    Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

  • 1927 Frank Schlesinger
    Frank Schlesinger
    Frank Schlesinger was an American astronomer. His work concentrated on using photographic plates rather than direct visual studies for astronomical research.-Biography:...

  • 1928 Ralph Allen Sampson
    Ralph Allen Sampson
    Ralph Allen Sampson FRS was a British astronomer.He was born in Skull, Co Cork to James Sampson, a Cornish-born metallurgical chemist. The family moved to Liverpool and Sampson attended the Liverpool Institute and then graduated from St. John's College, Cambridge in 1888...

  • 1929 Ejnar Hertzsprung
    Ejnar Hertzsprung
    Ejnar Hertzsprung was a Danish chemist and astronomer.Hertzsprung was born in Copenhagen. In the period 1911–1913, together with Henry Norris Russell, he developed the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram....

  • 1930 John Stanley Plaskett
    John Stanley Plaskett
    John Stanley Plaskett FRS was a Canadian astronomer.He worked as a machinist, and was offered a job as a mechanician at the Department of Physics at the University of Toronto, constructing apparatuses and assisting with demonstrations during lectures...

  • 1931 Willem de Sitter
    Willem de Sitter
    Willem de Sitter was a Dutch mathematician, physicist and astronomer.-Life and work:Born in Sneek, De Sitter studied mathematics at the University of Groningen and then joined the Groningen astronomical laboratory. He worked at the Cape Observatory in South Africa...

  • 1932 Robert Grant Aitken
    Robert Grant Aitken
    Robert Grant Aitken was an American astronomer.He worked at Lick Observatory in California. He systematically studied double stars, measuring their positions and calculating their orbits around one another...

  • 1933 Vesto Slipher
    Vesto Slipher
    Vesto Melvin Slipher was an American astronomer. His brother Earl C. Slipher was also an astronomer and a director at the Lowell Observatory....

  • 1934 Harlow Shapley
    Harlow Shapley
    Harlow Shapley was an American astronomer.-Career:He was born on a farm in Nashville, Missouri, and dropped out of school with only the equivalent of a fifth-grade education...

  • 1935 E. Arthur Milne
  • 1936 Hisashi Kimura
    Hisashi Kimura
    was a Japanese astronomer originally from Kanazawa, Ishikawa.He devoted his career to the study and measurement of variation in latitude, building upon the work of Seth Carlo Chandler, who discovered the Chandler wobble. He was director of the International Latitude Observatory at Mizusawa,...

  • 1937 Harold Jeffreys
    Harold Jeffreys
    Sir Harold Jeffreys, FRS was a mathematician, statistician, geophysicist, and astronomer. His seminal book Theory of Probability, which first appeared in 1939, played an important role in the revival of the Bayesian view of probability.-Biography:Jeffreys was born in Fatfield, Washington, County...

  • 1938 William Hammond Wright
    William Hammond Wright
    William Hammond Wright was an American astronomer. He was director of the Lick Observatory from 1935 until 1942....

  • 1939 Bernard Lyot
    Bernard Lyot
    Bernard Ferdinand Lyot was a French astronomer.His interest in astronomy started in 1914. He soon acquired a telescope and soon upgraded to a . From graduation in 1918 until 1929, he worked as a demonstrator at the Ecole Polytechnique...

  • 1940 Edwin Hubble
    Edwin Hubble
    Edwin Powell Hubble was an American astronomer who profoundly changed the understanding of the universe by confirming the existence of galaxies other than the Milky Way - our own galaxy...

  • 1943 Harold Spencer Jones
    Harold Spencer Jones
    Sir Harold Spencer Jones KBE FRS was an English astronomer. Although born "Jones", his surname became "Spencer Jones"....

  • 1944 Otto Struve
    Otto Struve
    Otto Struve was a Russian astronomer. In Russian, his name is sometimes given as Otto Lyudvigovich Struve ; however, he spent most of his life and his entire scientific career in the United States...

  • 1945 Bengt Edlén
    Bengt Edlén
    Bengt Edlén was a Swedish professor of physics and astronomer who specialized in spectroscopy. He participated in solving the Corona Mystery: unidentified spectral lines in the sun's spectrum were speculatively believed to originate from a hitherto unidentified chemical element termed coronium...

  • 1946 Jan Oort
    Jan Oort
    Jan Hendrik Oort was a Dutch astronomer. He was a pioneer in the field of radio astronomy. The Oort cloud of comets bears his name....

  • 1947 Marcel Minnaert
    Marcel Minnaert
    Marcel Gilles Jozef Minnaert was a Belgian astronomer.He obtained a PhD in biology at Ghent University in 1914....

  • 1948 Bertil Lindblad
    Bertil Lindblad
    Bertil Lindblad Bertil Lindblad Bertil Lindblad (Örebro, 26 November 1895 – Saltsjöbaden (outside Stockholm, 25 June 1965) was a Swedish astronomer.After finishing his secondary education at Örebro högre allmänna läroverk, Lindblad matriculated at Uppsala University in 1914...

  • 1949 Sydney Chapman
    Sydney Chapman (astronomer)
    Sydney Chapman FRS was a British mathematician and geophysicist. His work on the kinetic theory of gases, solar-terrestrial physics, and the Earth's ozone layer has inspired a broad range of research over many decades....

  • 1950 Joel Stebbins
    Joel Stebbins
    Joel Stebbins was an American astronomer who pioneered photoelectric photometry in astronomy. He earned his Ph.D at the University of California. He was director of the University of Illinois Observatory from 1903 to 1922 where he performed innovative work with the selenium cell...

  • 1951 Anton Pannekoek
  • 1952 John Jackson
    John Jackson (astronomer)
    John Jackson was a Scottish astronomer.Born in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland, he was educated at Paisley Grammar School, studying a range of subjects including the sciences and French and German, but not Latin or Greek, which were compulsory if he intended to sit the entrance examinations for...

  • 1953 Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar
    Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar
    Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, FRS ) was an Indian origin American astrophysicist who, with William A. Fowler, won the 1983 Nobel Prize for Physics for key discoveries that led to the currently accepted theory on the later evolutionary stages of massive stars...

  • 1954 Walter Baade
    Walter Baade
    Wilhelm Heinrich Walter Baade was a German astronomer who worked in the USA from 1931 to 1959.-Biography:He took advantage of wartime blackout conditions during World War II, which reduced light pollution at Mount Wilson Observatory, to resolve stars in the center of the Andromeda galaxy for the...

  • 1955 Dirk Brouwer
    Dirk Brouwer
    Dirk Brouwer was a Dutch-American astronomer.He received his Ph.D. in 1927 at Leiden University in the Netherlands and then went to Yale University...

  • 1956 Thomas George Cowling
    Thomas George Cowling
    Thomas George Cowling FRS was an English astronomer.Cowling was born in Hackney, London and studied mathematics at Brasenose College, Oxford from 1924 to 1930. From 1928 to 1930 he worked under Edward Arthur Milne...

  • 1957 Albrecht Unsöld
    Albrecht Unsöld
    Albrecht Otto Johannes Unsöld was a German astrophysicist known for his contributions to spectroscopic analysis of stellar atmospheres.-Career:...

  • 1958 André Danjon
    André Danjon
    André-Louis Danjon was a French astronomer born in Caen.Danjon devised a method to measure "Earthshine" on the Moon using a telescope in which a prism split the Moon's image into two identical side-by-side images...

  • 1959 Raymond Arthur Lyttleton
  • 1960 Viktor Ambartsumian
  • 1961 Herman Zanstra
    Herman Zanstra
    Herman Zanstra was a Dutch astronomer.Zanstra was born near Heerenveen in Friesland. In 1917 he graduated with an Engineer's degree in chemical engineering from the Delft Institute of Technology...

  • 1962 Bengt Strömgren
    Bengt Strömgren
    Bengt Georg Daniel Strömgren was a Danish astronomer and astrophysicist.Bengt Strömgren was born in Gothenburg. His parents were Hedvig Strömgren and Svante Elis Strömgren, who was professor of astronomy at the University of Copenhagen and director of the University Observatory in Copenhagen...

  • 1963 H. H. Plaskett
  • 1964 Martin Ryle
    Martin Ryle
    Sir Martin Ryle was an English radio astronomer who developed revolutionary radio telescope systems and used them for accurate location and imaging of weak radio sources...

    , Maurice Ewing
    Maurice Ewing
    William Maurice "Doc" Ewing was an American geophysicist and oceanographer.Ewing has been described as a pioneering geophysicist who worked on the research of seismic reflection and refraction in ocean basins, ocean bottom photography, submarine sound transmission , deep sea coring of the ocean...

  • 1965 Edward Bullard
    Edward Bullard
    Sir Edward "Teddy" Crisp Bullard FRS was a geophysicist who is considered, along with Maurice Ewing, to have founded the discipline of marine geophysics...

    , Gerald Maurice Clemence
    Gerald Maurice Clemence
    Gerald Maurice Clemence was an American astronomer. Inspired by the life and work of Simon Newcomb, his career paralleled the huge advances in astronomy brought about by the advent of the electronic computer. Clemence did much to revive the prestige of the U.S...

  • 1966 Ira Sprague Bowen
    Ira Sprague Bowen
    Ira Sprague Bowen was an American astronomer. In 1927 he discovered that nebulium was not really a chemical element but instead doubly ionized oxygen.-Life and work:...

    , Harold Clayton Urey
  • 1967 Hannes Alfven
    Hannes Alfvén
    Hannes Olof Gösta Alfvén was a Swedish electrical engineer, plasma physicist and winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on magnetohydrodynamics . He described the class of MHD waves now known as Alfvén waves...

    , Allan Sandage
    Allan Sandage
    Allan Rex Sandage was an American astronomer. He was Staff Member Emeritus with the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California. He is best known for determining the first reasonably accurate value for the Hubble constant and the age of the universe.-Career:Sandage was one of the most...

  • 1968 Walter Munk
    Walter Munk
    Walter Heinrich Munk is an American physical oceanographer. He is professor of geophysics emeritus and holds the Secretary of the Navy/Chief of Naval Operations Oceanography Chair at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California.-Early life:Born in 1917 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary,...

    , Fred Hoyle
    Fred Hoyle
    Sir Fred Hoyle FRS was an English astronomer and mathematician noted primarily for his contribution to the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis and his often controversial stance on other cosmological and scientific matters—in particular his rejection of the "Big Bang" theory, a term originally...

  • 1969 A. T. Price, Martin Schwarzschild
    Martin Schwarzschild
    Martin Schwarzschild was a German American astronomer. He was the son of famed astrophysicist Karl Schwarzschild and the nephew of the Swiss astrophysicist Robert Emden.-Biography:...

  • 1970 Horace W. Babcock
    Horace W. Babcock
    Horace Welcome Babcock was an American astronomer. He was the son of Harold D. Babcock.He invented and built a number of astronomical instruments, and in 1953 was the first to propose the idea of adaptive optics. He specialized in spectroscopy and the study of magnetic fields of stars...

  • 1971 Frank Press
    Frank Press
    Frank Press is an American geophysicist.Born in Brooklyn, New York, Press was science advisor to President Jimmy Carter from1976 to 1980,and president of the U.S. NationalAcademy of Sciences from 1981 to 1993...

    , Richard van der Riet Woolley
    Richard van der Riet Woolley
    Richard van der Riet Woolley was an English astronomer who became Astronomer Royal. His mother's maiden name was Van der Riet....

  • 1972 H. I. S. Thirlaway
    Hal Thirlaway
    Henry 'Hal' Ivison Shipley Thirlaway was a British seismologist. He did extensive work on the monitoring of underground nuclear testing. He was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1972.-External links:...

    , Fritz Zwicky
    Fritz Zwicky
    Fritz Zwicky was a Swiss astronomer. He worked most of his life at the California Institute of Technology in the United States of America, where he made many important contributions in theoretical and observational astronomy.- Biography :Fritz Zwicky was born in Varna, Bulgaria to a Swiss father....

  • 1973 Francis Birch
    Francis Birch (geophysicist)
    Albert Francis Birch was an American geophysicist best known for his experimental work on the properties of Earth-forming minerals at high pressure and temperature, in 1952 he published a well-known paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research ,where he demonstrated that the mantle is chiefly...

    , Edwin Salpeter
  • 1974 Ludwig Biermann
    Ludwig Biermann
    Ludwig Franz Benedict Biermann was a German astronomer.He made important contributions to astrophysics and plasma physics...

    , K. E. Bullen
    Keith Edward Bullen
    Keith Edward Bullen FRS was a New Zealand-born mathematician and geophysicist. He is noted for his seismological interpretation of the deep structure of the Earth's mantle and core...

  • 1975 Jesse Greenstein, Ernst Öpik
    Ernst Öpik
    Ernst Julius Öpik was a noted Estonian astronomer and astrophysicist who spent the second half of his career at the Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland.-Education:...

  • 1976 William H. McCrea, J. A. Ratcliffe
    J. A. Ratcliffe
    John Ashworth Ratcliffe, FRS , "JAR or Jack", was an influential British radio physicist....

  • 1977 David R. Bates
    David Bates (physicist)
    Sir David Robert Bates, FRS was an Irish mathematician and physicist.Born in Omagh, County Tyrone, Ireland, he moved to Belfast with his family in 1925, attending the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. He enrolled with the Queen's University of Belfast in 1934...

    , John G. Bolton
  • 1978 Lyman Spitzer
    Lyman Spitzer
    Lyman Strong Spitzer, Jr. was an American theoretical physicist and astronomer best known for his research in star formation, plasma physics, and in 1946, for conceiving the idea of telescopes operating in outer space...

    , James Van Allen
    James Van Allen
    James Alfred Van Allen was an American space scientist at the University of Iowa.The Van Allen radiation belts were named after him, following the 1958 satellite missions in which Van Allen had argued that a Geiger counter should be used to detect charged particles.- Life and career :* September...

  • 1979 Leon Knopoff
    Leon Knopoff
    Leon Knopoff was a geophysicist and musicologist. He received his education at Caltech, graduating in 1949 with a PhD in physics, and after holding several academic positions, moved to UCLA...

    , C. G. Wynne
  • 1980 Chaim L. Pekeris
    Chaim L. Pekeris
    Chaim Leib Pekeris was an Israeli-American physicist and mathematician. He made notable contributions to geophysics and the spectral theory of many-electron atoms, in particular the Helium atom. He was also one of the designers of the first computer in Israel, WEIZAC.-Biography:Pekeris was bon in...

    , Maarten Schmidt
    Maarten Schmidt
    Maarten Schmidt is a Dutch astronomer who measured the distances of quasars.Born in Groningen, The Netherlands, Schmidt studied with Jan Hendrik Oort. He earned his Ph.D. degree from Leiden Observatory in 1956....

  • 1981 J. Freeman Gilbert, Bernard Lovell
    Bernard Lovell
    Sir Alfred Charles Bernard Lovell OBE, FRS is an English physicist and radio astronomer. He was the first Director of Jodrell Bank Observatory, from 1945 to 1980.-Early Life:...

  • 1982 Riccardo Giacconi
    Riccardo Giacconi
    Riccardo Giacconi is an Italian/American Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist who laid the foundations of X-ray astronomy. He is currently a professor at the Johns Hopkins University.- Biography :...

    , Harrie Massey
    Harrie Massey
    Sir Harrie Stewart Wilson Massey FRS was an influential Australian mathematical physicist. He worked primarily in the fields of atomic and atmospheric physics.- Life and career :...

  • 1983 M. J. Seaton
    M. J. Seaton
    Michael J. Seaton FRS was an influential British mathematician, atomic physicist and astronomer.He was born in Bristol, and educated at Wallington County Grammar School , a grammar school in Surrey, where he won prizes for his achievements in chemistry.From 1941 to 1946 he served in the wartime...

    , Fred Whipple
  • 1984 S. K. Runcorn, Yakov Borisovich Zel'dovich
    Yakov Borisovich Zel'dovich
    Yakov Borisovich Zel'dovich was a prolific Soviet physicist born in Belarus. He played an important role in the development of Soviet nuclear and thermonuclear weapons, and made important contributions to the fields of adsorption and catalysis, shock waves, nuclear physics, particle physics,...

  • 1985 Thomas Gold
    Thomas Gold
    Thomas Gold was an Austrian-born astrophysicist, a professor of astronomy at Cornell University, a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the Royal Society . Gold was one of three young Cambridge scientists who in the 1950s proposed the now mostly abandoned 'steady...

    , Stephen Hawking
    Stephen Hawking
    Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, whose scientific books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity...

  • 1986 George E. Backus, Alexander Dalgarno
    Alexander Dalgarno
    Alexander Dalgarno is a British physicist who is Phillips Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University.-Biography:He was educated in mathematics and atomic physics at University College, London. He was an academic at the Queen's University of Belfast and moved to Harvard in 1967...

  • 1987 Takesi Nagata, Martin Rees
  • 1988 Don L. Anderson
    Don L. Anderson
    Don Lynn Anderson is an American geophysicist who has made important contributions to the determination of the large-scale structure of the Earth's interior, especially using seismological methods. He is Eleanor and John R. McMillan Professor emeritus of geophysics at the California Institute of...

    , Cornelius de Jager
  • 1989 Raymond Hide
    Raymond Hide
    Raymond Hide CBE FRS is a British physicist, who was formerly Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford. Since 2000, he has been Senior Research Investigator at Imperial College, London.-Life:...

    , Ken Pounds
    Ken Pounds
    Kenneth Alwyne Pounds, CBE, FRS is Emeritus Professor of physics at the University of Leicester.He was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, then attended University College London where he gained his BSc and PhD. He then moved to Leicester as Assistant Lecturer in 1960...

  • 1990 James W. Dungey, B. E. J. Pagel
  • 1991 Vitaly Ginzburg
    Vitaly Ginzburg
    Vitaly Lazarevich Ginzburg ForMemRS was a Soviet theoretical physicist, astrophysicist, Nobel laureate, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and one of the fathers of Soviet hydrogen bomb...

    , G. J. Wasserburg
  • 1992 Dan P. McKenzie, Eugene N. Parker
  • 1993 Peter Goldreich
    Peter Goldreich
    Peter Goldreich is an American astrophysicist whose research focuses on celestial mechanics, planetary rings, helioseismology and neutron stars. He is currently the Lee DuBridge Professor of Astrophysics and Planetary Physics at California Institute of Technology. Since 2005 he has also been a...

    , Donald Lynden-Bell
    Donald Lynden-Bell
    Donald Lynden-Bell CBE FRS is an English astrophysicist, best known for his theories that galaxies contain massive black holes at their centre, and that such black holes are the principal source of energy in quasars. He was a co-recipient, with Maarten Schmidt, of the inaugural Kavli Prize for...

  • 1994 James E. Gunn
    James E. Gunn
    James Edward Gunn is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Astronomy at Princeton University. Gunn's early theoretical work in astronomy has helped establish the current understanding of how galaxies form, and the properties of the space between galaxies...

    , Thomas R. Kaiser
  • 1995 John T. Houghton
    John T. Houghton
    As co-chair of the IPCC, he defends the IPCC process, in particular against charges of failure to consider non-CO2 explanations of climate change. In evidence to, the Select Committee on Science and Technology in 2000 he said:...

    , Rashid Sunyaev
    Rashid Sunyaev
    Rashid Alievich Sunyaev was born in Tashkent, Uzbek SSR, on March 1, 1943 to a Tatar family, and educated at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and Moscow State University . He became a professor at MIPT in 1974...

  • 1996 Kenneth Creer, Vera Rubin
    Vera Rubin
    Vera Rubin is an American astronomer who pioneered work on galaxy rotation rates. She is famous for uncovering the discrepancy between the predicted angular motion of galaxies and the observed motion, by studying galactic rotation curves...

  • 1997 Donald Farley, Donald Osterbrock
  • 1998 Robert L. Parker
    Robert Ladislav Parker
    Robert L. Parker is an American geophysicist and mathematician currently holding a Professor Emeritus of Geophysics position at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla, California....

    , James Peebles
  • 1999 Kenneth Budden, Bohdan Paczyński
    Bohdan Paczynski
    Bohdan Paczyński or Bohdan Paczynski was a Polish astronomer, a leading scientist in theory of the evolution of stars, accretion discs and gamma ray bursts....

  • 2000 Leon Lucy, Robert Hutchinson
  • 2001 Hermann Bondi
    Hermann Bondi
    Sir Hermann Bondi, KCB, FRS was an Anglo-Austrian mathematician and cosmologist. He is best known for developing the steady-state theory of the universe with Fred Hoyle and Thomas Gold as an alternative to the Big Bang theory, but his most lasting legacy will probably be his important...

    , Henry Rishbeth
  • 2002 Leon Mestel
    Leon Mestel
    Leon Mestel is a British astronomer and astrophysicist and Emeritus Professor at the University of Sussex. His research interests are in the areas of star formation and structure, especially stellar magnetism and astrophysical magnetohydrodynamics. He has won both the Eddington Medal and the Gold...

    , J. A. Jacobs
  • 2003 John Bahcall, David Gubbins
  • 2004 Jeremiah P. Ostriker
    Jeremiah P. Ostriker
    Jeremiah Paul Ostriker is an astrophysicist at Princeton University. He received his B.A. from Harvard, his Ph.D at the University of Chicago, and then carried out post-doctoral work at the University of Cambridge. From 1971 to 1995, Ostriker was a professor at Princeton, and served as Provost...

    , Grenville Turner
    Grenville Turner
    Grenville Turner is a research professor at the University of Manchester. He is one of the pioneers of cosmochemistry.- Education :* Todmorden Grammar School* St...

  • 2005 Margaret Burbidge
    Margaret Burbidge
    Eleanor Margaret Burbidge, née Peachey, FRS is a British-born American astrophysicist, noted for original research and holding many administrative posts, including director of the Royal Greenwich Observatory....

    , Geoffrey Burbidge
    Geoffrey Burbidge
    Geoffrey Ronald Burbidge FRS was an English astronomy professor, most recently at the University of California, San Diego. He was married to astrophysicist Dr. Margaret Burbidge.-Education:...

    , Carole Jordan
    Carole Jordan
    Professor Dame Carole Jordan, DBE, FRS, FInstP, was the first ever female president of the Royal Astronomical Society. She was also only the third female recipient of its Gold Medal .-Education:Carole Jordan was educated at Harrow County Grammar School for Girls and at University College London...

  • 2006 Simon White
    Simon White
    Professor Simon David Manton White, FRS is a British astrophysicist. He is one of four directors at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics.- Life :...

    , Steven W. H. Cowley
  • 2007 John L. Culhane, Nigel O. Weiss
  • 2008 Joseph Silk, Brian Kennett
  • 2009 David A. Williams
    David A. Williams
    David A. Williams is the president and chief executive officer of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He was appointed to this position in 2005.-Education:...

    , Eric Priest
    Eric Priest
    Eric Priest, FRSE, FRS, holds the Gregory Chair of Mathematics and is a Bishop Wardlaw Professor at St Andrews University....

  • 2010 Douglas Gough, John Woodhouse
  • 2011 Richard Ellis
    Richard Ellis (astronomer)
    Richard Salisbury Ellis CBE FRS is the Steele Professor of Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology ....

    , Eberhard Gruen


Silver medal


On two occasions, silver medals were also awarded, but this was soon discontinued.
  • 1824 Charles Rümker, Jean-Louis Pons
    Jean-Louis Pons
    Jean-Louis Pons was a French astronomer.Despite humble beginnings and being self-taught, he went on to become the greatest visual comet discoverer of all time: between 1801 and 1827 Pons discovered thirty-seven comets, more than any other person in history.- Early life :Pons was born at Peyre,...

  • 1827 William Samuel Stratford
    William Samuel Stratford
    William Samuel Stratford was an English astronomer born in Eltham, Surrey.He joined the Royal Navy in 1806 under the command of Sir Sydney Smith...

    , Mark Beaufoy
    Mark Beaufoy
    thumb|right|An engraving of Mark Beaufoy, by Valentine GreenColonel Mark Beaufoy FRS was an English astronomer and physicist, mountaineer, explorer and British Army officer...


Testimonial medal of 1848

  • George Biddell Airy
    George Biddell Airy
    Sir George Biddell Airy PRS KCB was an English mathematician and astronomer, Astronomer Royal from 1835 to 1881...

  • John Couch Adams
    John Couch Adams
    John Couch Adams was a British mathematician and astronomer. Adams was born in Laneast, near Launceston, Cornwall, and died in Cambridge. The Cornish name Couch is pronounced "cooch"....

  • Friedrich Wilhelm Argelander
    Friedrich Wilhelm Argelander
    Friedrich Wilhelm August Argelander was a German astronomer. He is known for his determinations of stellar brightnesses, positions, and distances.- Life and work :...

  • George Bishop
    George Bishop
    George Arthur Bishop was a Welsh association football player. He played professionally for Gillingham and Merthyr Town between 1926 and 1932.-References:...

  • George Everest
    George Everest
    Colonel Sir George Everest was a Welsh surveyor, geographer and Surveyor-General of India from 1830 to 1843.Sir George was largely responsible for completing the section of the Great Trigonometric Survey of India along the meridian arc from the south of India extending north to Nepal, a distance...

  • John Herschel
    John Herschel
    Sir John Frederick William Herschel, 1st Baronet KH, FRS ,was an English mathematician, astronomer, chemist, and experimental photographer/inventor, who in some years also did valuable botanical work...

  • Peter Andreas Hansen
    Peter Andreas Hansen
    Peter Andreas Hansen was a Danish astronomer, was born at Tønder, Schleswig.-Biography:The son of a goldsmith, Hansen learned the trade of a watchmaker at Flensburg, and exercised it at Berlin and Tønder, 1818–1820...

  • Karl Ludwig Hencke
    Karl Ludwig Hencke
    Karl Ludwig Hencke was a German amateur astronomer. He is sometimes confused with Johann Franz Encke, another German astronomer....

  • John Russell Hind
    John Russell Hind
    John Russell Hind FRS was an English astronomer.- Life and work :John Russell Hind was born in 1823 in Nottingham, the son of lace manufacturer John Hind, and was educated at Nottingham High School...

  • Urbain Le Verrier
  • John William Lubbock
  • Maxmilian Weisse

External links