2008 ASP Annual Award Recipients
Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal
Sidney van den Bergh
Researcher Emeritus, Dominion Astrophysical Lab
Victoria, BC, Canada
The ASP's 2008 Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal, awarded since 1898 for a lifetime of outstanding research in astronomy, is presented to Sydney van den Bergh —a world-renowned astronomer and a leader in Canadian (and world) astronomy. While he is best known for his distinguished and inspirational work on galaxies and their stellar contents, he is a strikingly prolific writer with more than 500 refereed publications covering a vast array of astronomical subjects. He has also authored more than 250 conference proceedings.
He has made fundamental contributions to studies of local group galaxies (including dwarf galaxies), galactic morphology, and the extragalactic distance scale. Sidney's work on galactic morphology probes how galaxies change both along the Hubble sequence and as a function of intrinsic luminosity. His research has also had a major influence on our understanding of globular and open star clusters, supernovae, and metal abundances and the chemical evolution of the universe.
Sidney's long and distinguished career began as an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Ohio State University. In 1958 he moved to Toronto, Ontario, where, for the next 19 years, he taught at the University of Toronto, worked at the nearby David Dunlap Observatory, and inspired and supervised many students who have since become leaders in the fields of stellar and galactic research.
In 1977 he was appointed Director of the National Research Council's Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) located outside Victoria, British Columbia. As director (1977-86), he orchestrated an era of dramatic increases in staff levels as well as research and technical productivity.
He has continued to be active since his retirement as director, and he remains a Researcher Emeritus with the DAO. Sidney served as President and Chairman of the Board of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Corporation, President of the Canadian Astronomical Society, and Vice-President of the International Astronomical Union. He was inducted into the Royal Society and is an Officer of the Order of Canada. Asteroid van den Bergh 4230 is named in his honor.
Very few individuals during the past half-century can boast of such a sweeping impact on international astronomy and astro-physics. The Astronomical Society of the Pacific is honored to add the Bruce Medal to the long list of Sidney van den Bergh's other important awards in astronomy.