Joseph Weber Award for Astronomical Instrumentation

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.

Eligibility: Unrestricted.


  • Design, invention, or significant improvement of instrumentation (not software) leading to advances in astronomy. 
  • A considerable period of time may have elapsed between the development of the instrumentation and the granting of the award.
  • Impact — how has the instrumentation contributed to advances in astronomy (widely used, or key to the success of major telescope or research program)?
  • Innovation or creativity — differs in key ways from previously employed instrumentation, utilizes advanced technology or physics not previously applied in the field, and allows investigations of physical properties that could not be studied before.

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

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Joseph Weber Award Committee

2024 - Paul Goldsmith

For his pioneering advancements in millimeter-wave astronomy and astronomical receivers, especially his notable development of quasioptics.

2023 - Shouleh Nikzad

For her pioneering contributions pushing the boundaries of ultraviolet/visible photon-counting charge-coupled devices, her sustained infusion of related technologies across multiple fields.

2022 - Peter Wizinowich

For pioneering work on the Keck adaptive optics systems.

2022 - Michael Lesser

For innovative and foundational work on methods of thinning, coating, and reading out large-format back-side illuminated CCD detectors.

2020 – Oswald “Ossy” Siegmund

For his significant and innovative contributions to the technology of photon counting detectors and the impact these instruments have had on advancing our understanding of the universe.

2019 – John D. Monnier

For his pioneering work in high-angular-resolution studies with long-baseline optical interferometry, which have moved the field from measurements in visibility space to true imaging and opened up a new window on stellar astrophysics.

2018 – Rainer Weiss

For his invention of the interferometric gravitational-wave detector, which led to the first detection of long-predicted gravitational waves from astronomical sources by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO).

2017 – Ian S. McLean

For 30+ years at the forefront of the development of advanced infrared sensor arrays and for his leadership in the design, construction, and deployment of innovative and high-scientific-impact infrared instruments.

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-, balloon-, and space-based instruments, leading to critical measurements of the cosmic microwave background.

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 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.
Year Recipient(s) Citation
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.
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.