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The Joseph Weber Award for Astronomical Instrumentation is awarded to an individual, of any nationality, for the design, invention, or significant improvement of instrumentation (not software) leading to advances in astronomy. No restrictions are placed on a candidate's citizenship or country of residency.

In order that the scientific impact of the instrumentation may be assessed properly, a considerable period of time may have elapsed between the development of the instrumentation and the granting of the award.

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Nomination Checklist


2016 – James J. (Jamie) Bock
For his development of low noise “spider web” bolometers that enable a broad range of submillimeter and millimeter observations with ground-based, balloon-based, and space-based instruments, leading to critically important measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation.
  2015 – Claire E. Max
For co-inventing sodium-laser-guide-star adaptive optics and for shepherding adaptive optics, which takes the "twinkle" out of starlight, from its roots in classified space surveillance to its prominence today as an essential technology on large telescopes.
2014 – Sander Weinreb
In recognition of his seminal innovations that have helped define modern-day radio astronomy, including digital auto-correlation spectrometers and cryogenic low-noise amplifiers and mixers.
  2013 – Keith Matthews
In recognition of his many contributions to infrared astronomical instrumentation at the Palomar and Keck Observatories. The reliability, sensitivity, and innovative qualities of his instruments have enabled ground breaking scientific discoveries for decades.


Year Recipient(s) Citation
2012 M. M. (Thijs) de Graauw For his leadership in the construction of powerful new astronomical instruments including the Short Wavelength Spectrometer on ISO and the Heterodyne Instrument For the Infrared on Herschel.
2011 Edward S. Cheng For his critical contributions to the development of several key instruments on the Hubble Space Telescope.
2010 Donald Hall For his innovative contributions to the development of low noise detectors for observational infrared astronomy that have enabled decades of scientific discoveries.
2009 Peter Serlemitsos For his innovative contributions to X-ray detector and telescope designs that have enabled decades of scientific advances in high energy astrophysics.
2008 James R. Houck For his extraordinary contributions over nearly four decades to major instrumentation for infrared astronomy. From early pioneering rocket experiments and major contributions to IRAS instrumentation to most recently the design and construction of IRS for the Spitzer telescope, Houck's contributions have been seminal to make infrared astronomy among the most exciting in the entire field. Scientifically, Houck's contributions have spanned the range from HII regions to the Galactic Center to extragalactic IR sources.
2007 Harvey Moseley For his extraordinary contributions for over two decades to the development of astronomical detectors covering a huge wavelength range—from X-rays to the submillimeter. These detectors have been used in some of the most successful of space missions from COBE to Spitzer that have profoundly changed our understanding of the universe.
2006 J. Roger Angel For his superlative work spanning two decades on the development of a new generation of large telescopes, his establishment of the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab and a host of extraordinary conceptual ideas that have been turned into practical engineering solutions for astronomy.
2005 Stephan Shectman In recognition of 30 years of development and use of innovative spectrographs, his leadership as Project Scientist for the Magellan telescopes, and the positive impact that his designs and equipment have already had on astronomy.
2004 Thomas G. Phillips For his substantial and pioneering contributions over several decades to the development of millimeter and sub-millimeter wave astronomy.
2003 Frank J. Low For extraordinary ingenuity in the development of infrared instrumentation and observatories, including bolometers, the Lear Jet and Kuiper Airborne observatories, and the IRAS and SIRTF space missions.
2002 James E. Gunn For his outstanding contributions to astronomical instrumentation which have influenced the development of instruments on major telescopes worldwide.