Henry Norris Russell Lectureship

The Russell Lecturer is normally chosen annually on the basis of a lifetime of eminence in astronomical research. The award includes a suitably engraved certificate, an invitation to deliver a lecture dealing with a broad astronomical field at a meeting designated by the Board of Trustees, travel expenses to the meeting at which the Russell Lecture is given, and publication of the lecture (or research related to the subject of the prize, though publication of the lecture is strongly preferred) in a Society journal.

Eligibility: Unrestricted.


  • Lifetime of eminence in astronomical research.
  • Impact on astronomy — publications and citations; leadership in research programs or major astronomical missions.
  • Significance of the research.
  • Influence on young astronomers, colleagues, and overall advancement of the field.

Self-nominations are allowed. Nominations are open and are due on 30 June.

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Russell Lectureship Committee

2024 - Neta Bahcall

For her central contributions to determining the average density of matter in the universe and establishing the concordance model of cosmology, and for her dedication to astronomical education and her exemplary service to the community.

2023 - Frank Shu

For his seminal contributions to theoretical astrophysics, from the formation of stars and planetary systems to the structure of disk galaxies; for his sustained leadership in the global astronomical community.

2022 - Richard Mushotzky

For a lifetime of innovative X-ray and multiwavelength research, including foundational studies of the properties of active galactic nuclei and the composition and structures of hot gas in clusters of galaxies.

2021 - Nick Scoville

For lifelong contributions to our understanding of molecular gas and star formation in the Milky Way and other galaxies, for visionary leadership, and for inspiring generations of early career astronomers.

2020 - Scott Tremaine

For his lifelong contributions to our understanding of the dynamics of natural cosmic systems on scales ranging from comets to clusters of galaxies, and for his mentoring of junior colleagues and leadership of major astronomical research institutions.
Ann Merchant Boesgaard

2019 – Ann Merchant Boesgaard

In recognition of her pioneering, sustained work in using light-element abundances to test Big Bang nucleosynthesis and to probe stellar structure and stellar evolution.
Joseph Silk

2018 – Joseph Silk

For his lifetime contributions to our understanding of the early universe and galaxy formation. Underpinning his scholarly impact is an extraordinary publication record that includes more that 800 refereed articles and eight books.
Eric Becklin

2017 – Eric Becklin

For his leadership role over the last half century in turning infrared astronomy into a fundamental tool for understanding the universe.
Christopher F. McKee

2016 – Christopher F. McKee

For his innovative ideas, powerful theoretical insights, and practical models that have had significant impact on many areas of astrophysics.
Giovanni Fazio

2015 – Giovanni Fazio

For his pioneering work on gamma-ray and infrared instrumentation, which has advanced our understanding in many areas of astronomy, ranging from near-Earth objects to high-redshift galaxies.
George Field

2014 – George Field

For a lifetime of contributions to our basic understanding of diffuse plasmas in the universe that continue to motivate current astronomers.
Year Recipient(s) Citation and Additional Materials
2013 Kenneth C. Freeman For a lifetime of seminal contributions to the fields of galaxy structure and dynamics and stellar populations.
Lecture Abstract
2012 W. David Arnett For a lifetime of seminal contributions to the fields of stellar explosions, nuclear astrophysics, and hydrodynamics.
Lecture Abstract
2011 Sandra M. Faber For a lifetime of seminal contributions to galaxy evolution and dynamics, the distribution of the mysterious “dark matter” in the universe, for leading the construction of astronomical instrumentation, and for mentoring future leading astronomers.
Lecture Abstract
2010 Margaret J. Geller For a lifetime of work on the distribution and clustering of galaxies in the Universe and for her notable success in describing this work to the public.
Lecture Abstract  |  Journal Article
2009 George W. Preston For a lifetime of research that has transformed our understanding of RR Lyrae variables, stellar magnetic fields, and stellar chromospheres, and led to a comprehensive view of the nature, chemistry, kinematics, and metallicity and age distribution in the Galactic stellar halo.
Lecture Abstract  |  Journal Article
2008 Rashid Sunyaev For his seminal contributions to high energy astrophysics and cosmology.
Lecture Abstract
2007 David Lambert For fundamental contributions in the field of stellar spectroscopy and the chemical composition of the sun, the stars, and interstellar clouds.
Lecture Abstract
2006 Bohdan Paczynski For his highly original contributions to a wide variety of fields including advanced stellar evolution, the nature of gamma ray bursts, accretion in binary systems, gravitational lensing, and cosmology.
Lecture Abstract
2005 James E. Gunn For contributions to observational, instrumental, and theoretical astrophysics that have informed our understanding of the universe and a large fraction of its contents, including Gunn-Peterson absorption in quasar spectra, weak gravitational lensing, galactic and stellar dynamics, pulsars and quasars, and the objects of study of numerous spectrographs, cameras, and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.
Lecture Abstract
2004 Martin J. Rees For significant contributions to high energy astrophysics and cosmology, including predicting superluminal expansion, analyzing the role of black holes in galactic nuclei and binary x-ray sources, and developing the theory of galaxy formation and evolution.
Lecture Abstract
2003 George W. Wetherill For pioneering the application of modern physics and numerical simulations to the formation and evolution of terrestrial planets.
2002 George Wallerstein For his contributions to our understanding of the abundances of the elements in stars and clusters.
Lecture Abstract
2001 Wallace L. W. Sargent For his contributions to astronomical spectroscopy.Lecture Abstract
2000 Donald Lynden-Bell For his efforts to understand the rich properties of disks around planets, stars, black holes, and galaxies; the study of the motions of gas clouds around the Milky Way, of galaxies within the Local Group, and of the nearby universe through the thermal background radiation; and the importance of considering the fundamental basis for our subject within the sciences of heat, matter, and gravitation.
Lecture Abstract  |  Journal Article
1999 John N. Bahcall Lecture Abstract
1998 Charles H. Townes Lecture Abstract
1997 Alastair G. W. Cameron Lecture Abstract
1996 Gerry Neugebauer Lecture Abstract  |  Journal Article
1995 Robert P. Kraft Lecture Abstract
1994 Vera C. Rubin Lecture Abstract
1993 P. James E. Peebles Lecture Abstract
1992 Lawrence H. Aller Lecture Abstract
1991 Donald E. Osterbrock Lecture Abstract
1990 Sidney van den Bergh Lecture Abstract
1989 Icko Iben, Jr. Lecture Abstract
1988 Gerard de Vaucouleurs Lecture Abstract
1987 Fred L. Whipple Lecture Abstract
1986 Albert E. Whitford Lecture Abstract
1985 Olin J. Eggen Lecture Abstract
1984 E. Margaret Burbidge Lecture Abstract
1983 Herbert Friedman  
1982 Bart J. Bok Lecture Abstract  |  Journal Article
1981 Riccardo Giacconi  
1980 Jeremiah P. Ostriker  
1979 Peter Goldreich  
1978 Maarten Schmidt  
1977 Olin C. Wilson Lecture Abstract
1976 Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin  
1975 George H. Herbig  
1974 Edwin Salpeter  
1973 Leo Goldberg  
1972 Allan R. Sandage  
1971 Fred Hoyle  
1970 Jesse L. Greenstein  
1969 Eugene N. Parker  
1968 John G. Bolton  
1967 O. Neugebauer Journal Article
1966 Richard Tousey  
1965 B.G. Stromgren  
1964 I.S. Bowen  
1963 William A. Fowler  
1962 Grote Reber  
1961 W.W. Morgan  
1960 Martin Schwarzschild  
1959 Gerard P. Kuiper  
1958 Walter Baade  
1957 Otto Struve  
1956 Joel Stebbins  
1955 Paul Merrill  
1954 Omitted  
1953 Lyman Spitzer, Jr.  
1953 Enrico Fermi  
1952 Omitted  
1951 Jan H. Oort  
1950 Harlow Shapley  
1949 S. Chandrasekhar  
1948 Omitted  
1947 Walter S. Adams  
1946 Henry N. Russell