On Wednesday 11 September I spent the evening in Newcastle at the Great North Museum: Hancock surrounded by The Royal Photographic Society's astounding international scientific photography exhibition. The images all around the walls were taken from medical, astronomical and environmental disciplines and are truly works of art.
During the reception, part of the British Science Festival, it was announced that I had been awarded the 2013 European Astronomy Journalism Prize and that Sandra Kropa and Jonathan Amos had been highly commended. The prize-winning article was When the dust unsettles, published by New Scientist, in August 2012 so I share this honour with the editors and subeditors who brought this to print and my PA who checks things before I submit them.
Sandra Kropa's piece was published on Paul Sutherland's Skymania. In the photo, Sandra and I are standing with Terry O'Connor from STFC.
The prize, which sadly is only for me, is a week in December visiting the telescopes in Chile. I have been there before in 2002 so I am hoping to see the progress achieved over the last decade.
Click the read more button below to see the press release.
And the winner of the 2013 European Astronomy Journalism Prize is...
The winner of the 2013 European Astronomy Journalism Prize is author and astronomy journalist Stuart Clark for his piece 'When the dust unsettles'. This article featured in New Scientist and looked at cosmic dust, the starting point for building whole planets and much else besides.
The award was announced at the British Science Festival 2013 media reception, sponsored by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), on 11 September 2013. The competition aims to promote coverage of astronomy and space science to further engage the public in science. This is particularly important as astronomy and space science are regularly referred to as core reasons that people are inspired to take up careers in science. The prize for the competition is a trip to Chile to see the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope, the world's most advanced optical light telescope.
Stuart said: "It is such an honour to win the European Astronomy Journalism Prize. Not only does Europe have an intensely rich history of astronomy behind it, I believe that it has is an even brighter future stretching ahead. I'm proud to represent that in my work.
Articles like this can only come about by collaborating with great editors and so I would like to share this award with Richard Webb and Valerie Jamieson of New Scientist".
Professor David Southwood, President of the Royal Astronomical Society, said: "Stuart's piece is a vivid demonstration of both his talent and the way that astronomy has an unceasing ability to capture the imagination of the public. He takes a lesser known topic - cosmic dust - and shows how it has a fundamental effect on the development of stars, planets and even life. Congratulations to him for winning this prestigious award."
STFC Head of Communications and competition judge, Terry O'Connor, said. "Stuart's piece was a joy to read. It was well written, in a style accessible for the general public, and addressed an area of fundamental astronomical research, but it also crucially added the human element - healthy disagreement between scientists about the meaning of data, which gave the reader an insight into a common driver of breakthrough research."
Latvian journalist Sandra Kropa and UK BBC journalist Jonathan Amos were also highly commended by the judging panel of five which was made up of representatives from the ESO, STFC, the Royal Astronomical Society, the Association of British Science Writers and journalist Dirk Lorenzen. Sandra entered the competition with her piece, 'ALMA - the birth of a giant telescope: and Jonathan with his article, 'The first fractions of a second after the Big Bang'.
Sandra said: "The Universe has a lot of stories to tell and I like to show people how scientists try to decode these messages. I am very happy that the jury appreciated how I talk about it. This competition proved to me that there are no national borders in science or in science communication".
Stuart will take up his prize to Chile later this year.