The Michelson Prize for Contributions to Astronomical Optical Interferometry is jointly sponsored by Commission 54 of the International Astronomical Union and the Mount Wilson Institute (MWI). The purpose of the Michelson Prize is to provide recognition within the interferometry community, as well as in the broader science community, of scientific research programs and results from the rapidly growing field of optical interferometry, and to assist the Mount Wilson Institute and the IAU Commission with engaging the community in promoting the future of optical interferometry. MWI is a non-profit corporation that operates the Mount Wilson Observatory (MWO) under an agreement with the Carnegie Institution of Washington. MWO is a world-renowned historical site in the development of optical interferometry and continues to play a significant modern role in the field.
Description of the Michelson Prize – The award recognizes outstanding achievement in the scientific research and facility areas of optical interferometry. The Prize may be given for scientific discoveries with applied optical interferometry, for guiding student research, for support of research operations including observatory management, and for related public service. The Prize may have either of two formats:
- The Michelson Lifetime Contributions Prize recognizes a substantial history of contributions and international leadership as evidenced by one or more of: publications, advancement of knowledge, reputation, procurement and management of resources, and accomplishments of former students. The award consists of a certificate with a statement of the contributions and their significance.
- The Michelson Investigator Prize recognizes recent, specific contributions, judged of exceptional merit or impact by such evidence as intensive follow-up activity, high citation rate, focus in conferences, or strong media interest. The award consists of a certificate with a statement of the contributions and their significance and a cash prize in an amount determined by the sponsor.
2010 - Michael Shao - The Michelson Prize for 2010 was awarded to Dr. Michael Shao for his pioneering work on ground-based and space-based interferometers, including the Mark I, Mark II, and Mark III interferometers, the Palomar Testbed Interferometer, the Keck Interferometer, and the Space Interferometry Mission. Dr. Shao has been a prominent leader in the interferometry community, developing new avenues of research, including narrow-angle astrometry, and nulling.
2012 - Olivier Chesneau - The Michelson Prize for 2012 was awarded to Dr. Olivier Chesneau for his recent contributions to stellar astrophysics. In the decade since receiving his PhD, Dr. Chesneau has vigorously exploited optical interferometry for the study of stellar environments - disks, winds, and nebulae - in young, early-type stars and evolved stars through the latest stages of stellar evolution. In particular, he used a variety of interferometric data at very high resolution to model the close and dust environments of the eta Carina nebula, and recurrent novae RS Oph and T Pyx. Dr. Chesneau has contributed as first author and as collaborator to more than 70 refereed publications in 10 years.
Nomination Process - A complete nomination must include the nominating letter, which provides supporting evidence as well as indicates whether the nomination is for the Investigator or Lifetime Achievement Prize and a statement that the nominee is aware of and approves of the nomination. Candidates may be of any age and nationality, and need not be members of the IAU. Current officers of IAU Commission 54 or its Science Organizing Committee, members of the Prize Committee and officers and trustees of the Mount Wilson Institute may not be considered for the prize during their tenure in these positions. All materials should be submitted by email to the Vice President of IAU Commission 54 no later than May 1, 2014.
Please note that Commission 54 is also co-sponsoring the Fizeau Prize with the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur to recognize technical and theoretical progress in optical interferometry.