Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Gold Medal
Asaph Hall Gold Medal.jpg
The Gold Medal award of Asaph Hall
Awarded for for achievements in geophysics, solar physics, solar-terrestrial physics, planetary sciences, astronomy, cosmology, astroparticle physics, and cosmochemistry
Country United Kingdom
Presented by Royal Astronomical Society
First awarded 1824
Official website

The Gold Medal is the highest award of the Royal Astronomical Society.[1] The medal features an image of the 40-foot telescope that was constructed by German-born astronomer Sir William Herschel.


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, 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 each year, one for astronomy and one for geophysics.[2]

Gold Medal laureates[edit]

Key: (A) = Astronomy, (G) = Geophysics - Prior to 1903 all for Astronomy

Ancillary awards[edit]

Silver medal[edit]

On two occasions, silver medals were also awarded, but this was soon discontinued.

Testimonial medal of 1848[edit]

Notes and references[edit]


  1. ^ a b The first woman to win the Gold Medal was Caroline Herschel in 1828. No other woman did so until Vera Rubin in 1996.
  2. ^ Margaret and Geoffrey Burbidge were jointly awarded the 2005 Gold Medal in astronomy, the first joint award since 1886.


  1. ^ "Gold Medal (A)", Awards, Medals and Prizes (Royal Astronomical Society), retrieved 4 November 2014  (The "Gold Medal (A)" is for astronomy. The RAS also awards a "Gold Medal (G)" for geophysics. (List of RAS Awards, Medals and Prizes))
  2. ^ a b "2013 winners of the RAS awards, medals and prizes". Royal Astronomical Society. 10 January 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  3. ^ "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. 
  4. ^ "RAS meeting and Community Forum - JENAM 2009". Retrieved 23 April 2009. [dead link]
  5. ^ "RAS Honours Outstanding Astronomers and Geophysicists". Royal Astronomical Society. Retrieved 25 March 2011. 
  6. ^ "RAS honours outstanding astronomers and geophysicists". Royal Astronomical Society. 19 January 2011. Retrieved 10 January 2013. 
  7. ^ "RAS honours leading astronomers and geophysicists". Royal Astronomical Society. Retrieved 17 February 2012. 
  8. ^ "2014 winners of the RAS awards, medals and prizes". Royal Astronomical Society. 10 January 2014. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 

External links[edit]