2007 ASP Annual Award Recipients
Peter Francis Williams
New South Wales, Australia
Each year since 1979, an Award Committee, appointed by the ASP's Board of Directors, has selected the recipient of one of its most prestigious awards, The Amateur Achievement Award. This award is "designed to recognize significant contributions to astronomy or amateur astronomy by those not employed in the field of astronomy in a professional capacity."
This year's deserving awardee is Peter Francis Williams, a distinguished amateur astronomer from New South Wales, Australia.
Since obtaining his first telescope at the age of 14, Peter Williams has been an active observer. He began variable star observing at 16, and by age 20 was providing monthly reports to the VSS section of the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand, to whom he has since also provided numerous alert notices.
Mr. Williams' contributions have been numerous and varied. He has established himself as a reliable observer and one whose results are described by professional astronomers as "of consistently high quality." His diligence over the past twenty-five years has produced results that have been made readily available to professional astronomers (particularly in Australia and New Zealand) who have used them extensively in their research.
Some highlights of Williams' research include the early detection of declines in R Corona Borealis-type stars and the long-term monitoring of several southern Mira variables and eclipsing binaries. In both cases, his work has been of direct value to professional astronomers by alerting them to events in time for follow-up work by satellites and larger ground-based telescopes.
It has always been the practice of Peter Williams to scan the night sky at the start of each night's work in order to detect any unusual naked eye stellar object. This helped him become the first person to detect the naked-eye nova, Nova Vel 1999. He specializes in checking on RCrb stars with a view to promptly advising the worldwide astronomical community of any decline in such stars. Mr. Williams contributes untold numbers of hours to variable-star monitoring, and his contributions have proven invaluable in ongoing efforts toward the Anglo-Australian Observatory's creation of a major all-sky survey of stellar radial velocities.
Work such as that which Mr. Williams has conducted is essential to the successful symbiosis between amateur and professional communities. It is evident by the nomination letters submitted that Peter Francis Williams has provided an essential and very much appreciated link between the two.