The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), founded in San Francisco in 1889, is a worldwide organization that brings together research scientists, teachers, amateur astronomers, and “armchair astronomers” to “advance the Science of Astronomy, and to diffuse information concerning it.” The ASP has awarded its highest honor, the Catherine Wolfe Bruce gold medal, for lifetime contributions to astronomy most years since 1898. As specified by the donor, the award is open to “citizens of any country and to persons of either sex.” Each year the directors of six observatories, three in the United States and three abroad, are asked to nominate candidates for the medal. The original statutes are in PASP 9, 168-69 (1897). They have since been amended so that today the nominating observatories change regularly.
The ASP Board of Directors may award the medal to any of the nominees or decline to make an award. For more on the medal and its donor, Catherine Wolfe Bruce, see Joseph S. Tenn, “A Brief History of the Bruce Medal of the A.S.P.,” Mercury 15, 4, 103 (1986). For the history of the ASP see Katherine Bracher, Mercury 18, 5, 3 (1989) and Alfred H. Joy, “Seventy-Five Years of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific,” PASP 77, 81-88A (1965).
Joseph S. Tenn of Sonoma State University exhibited photographs of the Bruce medalists at the ASP’s centennial meeting in 1989. These pages contain the photos, their captions (updated and expanded), and links to more information about each medalist. Subsequent medalists have been added.
Professor Tenn’s biographical essays on the first 29 Bruce medalists, originally published in Mercury, are included as well.
The author is grateful to B.J. Fundaro of Sonoma State University and Paul F. Newman of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for assistance with some of the images on these pages. He is also grateful to the NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS) for scanning back issues of the major astronomy journals and making them available online. Many of the links are to articles posted at ADS.
If you are seeking pictures for publication: I am sorry, but I do not own the copyright to any of the images used on this site. Sources are indicated for all images, and can in many cases be purchased from the source. Additional photos on the web are also listed on the pages of most medalists.
More about this site: In November 2010 the author contributed “The Bruce Medalists: Makers of Modern Astronomy” to Astronomy Beat on the website of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific: https://www.astrosociety.org.
Banner Image by: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center