Dr Allan Chapman (picture by Stuart Williams)

Royal Astronomical Society honours SHA President

Dr Allan Chapman (picture by Stuart Williams)

Dr Allan Chapman (picture by Stuart Williams)

We are delighted to pass on the good news that the Royal Astronomical Society has honoured the Hon. President and co-founder of the Society for the History of Astronomy, Dr. Allan Chapman of Wadham College, University of Oxford, with one of its most prestigious awards – the Jackson-Gwilt Medal.

The Jackson-Gwilt Medal (courtesy RAS)

The Jackson-Gwilt Medal (courtesy RAS)

The Jackson-Gwilt Medal is awarded ‘…for single investigations of outstanding merit in either: the invention, improvement or development of astronomical instrumentation or techniques; achievement in observational astronomy; or in the history of astronomy’.

Dr Chapman is a renowned and highly popular historian of astronomy as well as being one of the greatest friends and supporters of the SHA.

As the Royal Astronomical Society rightly says in its press release:

“Through his extensive public lecturing, publications and television appearances he has brought astronomical history to new audiences. In doing so he has raised the profile of the history of astronomy and stimulated historical research.

“Dr Chapman’s book, The Victorian Amateur Astronomer: Independent Astronomical Research in Britain 1820-1920 is of particular note and is an essential resource for any researcher of nineteenth-century astronomy. The Victorian Amateur Astronomer identifies and honours the “grand amateurs”, a term he used to describe a group of people, seemingly unique to Britain, who made major discoveries from privately-funded observatories or who popularised astronomy among the masses.

“Allan Chapman’s in-depth research documents the work and achievements of the often self-educated assistant astronomers, many of whom were previously unknown and who did so much of the ground-work that led to published results. The era spanned by his book is of great importance to British astronomy and it puts into social context the foundation of both the Royal Astronomical Society and the British Astronomical Association.

“Dr Chapman’s work for this publication resulted in the foundation of the Society of the History of Astronomy, a society which seeks to understand the history of astronomy and the important contributions by lesser-known figures in history as well as those who are more famous.”

The foundation of the SHA came about directly as a result of conversations and correspondence between our Founding Secretary Stuart Williams and Dr. Chapman relating to the need for a local Survey of Astronomical History.

The Council of the SHA and its members send warmest congratulations to Dr. Chapman on receiving his well-deserved award.

For more information on the winners of the 2015 Royal Astronomical Society Awards, Medals and Prizes, click on the following link: