by Roberto Molar Candanosa
Mike Simmons, Founder and President of Astronomers Without Borders (AWB), received the prestigious 2014 Gabrielle and Camille Flammarion Prize, given by the Société Astronomique de France (SAF) on December 11, 2015 at the Paris Observatory for “setting a worldwide example that astronomy does transcend political and cultural borders.”
Paris Observatory astrophysicist and SAF vice-president David Valls-Gabaud presented the award in a ceremony where Simmons spoke about AWB’s efforts to continue bringing people together with astronomy. It was the first time an American received the award, which since 1930 honors those committed to popularize astronomy.
“Astronomers Without Borders has been absolutely unique in promoting astronomy across countries,” Valls-Gabaud said. “Mike is the head of AWB, but these being a collective effort, it is the entire Astronomers Without Borders community who is awarded this prize.”
Valls-Gabaud said the SAF is impressed by AWB’s projects, whether that means facilitating astronomy education in developing countries, providing tools for amateur clubs worldwide, or organizing stargazing parties that spark the interest of people in the universe.
“It’s just the fact that AWB goes to Bangladesh, Iran, Tanzania, and all these other places where it’s really difficult to go and organize public observations or go to schools and do these things that really matter,” said Valls-Gabaud, who himself is enthusiastic about public outreach.
The Gabrielle and Camille Flammarion Prize is among the most important honors awarded by the SAF, which values the promotion of astronomy among the public. Past awardees include astronomer and author of popular astronomy books Jean-Pierre Luminet in 1997, as well as Josep M. Oliver in 2013, for his outstanding role in popularizing astronomy in Spain as former president of the Astronomical Association of Sabadell.
Founded in 1887 by French astronomer and science communicator Camille Flammarion, the SAF is among the oldest and most prestigious astronomical societies in the world. During the prize ceremony, astrophysicists Rafael Rebolo and Suzy Collin-Zahn also received the 2014 Jules Janssen Prize, the SAF’s highest award given for exceptional research.
For more information on AWB or to arrange an interview with Mike Simmons please contact:
Astronomers Without Borders
Email: [email protected]