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To foster and recognize excellence in astronomy, the AAS awards or jointly awards with other organizations prizes for outstanding contributions to astronomical research, instrumentation, education, writing, and service. Only AAS members are eligible to submit nominations, and self-nominations are allowed only for certain prizes, as explained below.

All Society members are encouraged to nominate worthy colleagues for recognition by the AAS. It is not only the monetary prize but also the honor and distinction that can mean so much for an astronomer's career. A prize also adds luster to the recipient's department and/or institution in the eyes of the academic and scientific communities.


AAS prize nominations are due in the AAS Secretary's office by 30 June each year for the following prizes and awards:

  • Annie Jump Cannon Award in Astronomy* — for distinguished contributions by a woman.
  • Chambliss Amateur Achievement Award — for exemplary research by an amateur astronomer.
  • Chambliss Astronomical Writing Award — for astronomy writing for an academic audience.
  • Education Prize — for outstanding contributions to astronomy education.
  • Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics — awarded jointly with the AIP for outstanding mid-career work in astrophysics.
  • Newton Lacy Pierce Prize in Astronomy* — for outstanding early-career achievement in observational research.
  • Henry Norris Russell Lectureship — for lifetime preeminence in astronomical research.
  • Beatrice M. Tinsley Prize — for outstanding research of an exceptionally creative or innovative character.
  • George Van Biesbroeck Prize — for long-term extraordinary or unselfish service to astronomy.
  • Helen B. Warner Prize for Astronomy* — for significant early-career observational or theoretical research.
  • Joseph Weber Award for Astronomical Instrumentation — for the design, invention, or improvement of instrumentation.

*Self-nominations are allowed only for the Cannon Award and the Pierce and Warner Prizes.

The following prizes and awards are decided by different processes with different deadlines: Lancelot M. Berkeley − New York Community Trust Prize for Meritorious Work in Astronomy, Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Awards, Rodger Doxsey Travel Prizes, Kavli Foundation Plenary Lectureship, Priscilla and Bart Bok Award, and Award for Public Service to the Astronomical Sciences.

AAS Divisions give prizes as well, and these, too, are decided by different processes with different deadlines; see the individual Division websites for more information.

Nomination Process

Before nominating someone for a prize or award, please read the descriptions and review the recipient lists to verify that your proposed candidate is eligible for the intended prize or award and has not already received it.

We strongly prefer that nominations be submitted electronically via our online form (see Related below).

Alternatively, you may fill out the attached PDF (see Resources below), add the other materials requested below, and mail the packet to the AAS Secretary: G. F. Benedict, McDonald Observatory, 1 University Station, Austin, TX 78712.

Nomination Package

A complete prize nomination consists of the following items; please pay particular attention to the notes and exceptions:

  1. A letter of nomination outlining as specifically as possible the candidate's major relevant contributions and their impact on the field. Exceptions: Not required — nor accepted — for the Cannon Award, the Pierce Prize, and the Warner Prize.
  2. The candidate's curriculum vitae (CV).
  3. A bibliography of the candidate's published articles. Exception: Not required for the Chambliss Amateur Achievement Award; if possible, please substitute the candidate's website URL and/or pointers to any other documents or publications that provide evidence of the candidate's contributions.
  4. Abstracts of three publications illustrative of the candidate's merit. Exception: Not required for the Chambliss Amateur Achievement Award.
  5. Three letters of support. To submit a letter of support directly to the AAS Secretary without it being seen by the nominator and/or the candidate, please upload it using our AAS Prize Letter of Support Form (see Related below). 
    Note: For the Cannon Award and the Pierce and Warner Prizes, we don't want the prize-committee members to know which candidates were nominated by others and which candidates nominated themselves. Accordingly, all three letters of support for these prizes must say something like "I'm writing to support the nomination of [candidate's name]" rather than "I'm writing to nominate [candidate's name]." Any letter in support of the Cannon Award or Pierce or Warner Prize that suggests that the author is directly "nominating" the candidate rather than "supporting the nomination of" the candidate will be returned for a rewrite.
  6. The candidate's birth date and month/year of PhD. Note: This is required only for the Cannon Award and the Pierce and Warner Prizes because of their age and length-of-career restrictions.
  7. A five-year research plan of no more than three pages in language broadly accessible to astronomers whose expertise may lie in areas outside that of the candidate. Note: Required only for the Cannon Award.

For convenience, we have provided prize nomination checklists for all of the prizes and awards whose nomination materials are due on 30 June.

Nomination Period

Prize nominations generally remain valid for a period of three years, including the original year in which the candidate was nominated. For example, a person's 2015 nomination package remains in effect for 2015, 2016, and 2017. Exception: The three-year validity period may not apply to the Cannon Award, Pierce Prize, and/or Warner Prize, for example, when a candidate becomes ineligible by exceeding the age and/or time-since-PhD limit(s).

Questions? Comments? Please email the AAS Secretary.