Gold Medal of Royal Astronomical Society goes to Prof. Mike Lockwood

12 January 2015

IOP fellow Prof. Mike Lockwood has been awarded the Gold Medal in Geophysics of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS).

Prof. Mike Lockwood

This medal and the Gold Medal in Astronomy together constitute the highest honour of the RAS and are given for lifetime achievement. Prof. Lockwood, who is Professor of Space Environment Physics at the University of Reading, was awarded the medal for his work on the Earth's magnetosphere and ionosphere, the magnetic field of the Sun, and their influence on the terrestrial climate. He was awarded the IOP’s Chree Medal and Prize in 2003.

His citation from the RAS says that he is one of the most eminent researchers today in space physics, who has “made defining contributions in several different fields, from the ionosphere, via the magnetosphere and the heliosphere, to the Sun and its influence on the Earth’s climate”. It mentions his early discovery of a “fountain” of ions populating the polar magnetosphere from the ionosphere and his most recent work on the impact of the variable solar output on the heliosphere and the Earth’s climate. It notes: “Throughout his career, Professor Lockwood has provided novel and far-reaching insights that have subsequently become accepted paradigms, and paved the way for further study.”

Prof. Alan Hood

Prof. Alan Hood, also a fellow of the IOP, has been awarded the Chapman Medal (Geophysics) of the RAS. Prof. Hood, who is a professor in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of St Andrews, is described in his citation as “an outstanding scientist in theoretical solar physics, and one who is keenly aware of the importance of combining theory with observation”. It notes: “His early analytical work on the properties of coronal magnetic flux loops is seminal, and paved the way for the theory of coronal loops in the solar atmosphere as a whole.”

The Group Achievement Award (Geophysics) of the RAS has been awarded to the Hinode Extreme UV Imaging Spectrometer (EIS) team, led from the Mullard Space Science Laboratory of University College London by IOP member Prof. Louise Harra. The spectrometer is one of three instruments carried by the Hinode spacecraft, launched in 2006 to study the Sun from its photosphere to its extended corona at high spatial and spectra resolution. The RAS citation says: “The success of the instrument results from the close collaboration of UK, Japanese, US and Norwegian teams who, in addition to their remarkable scientific advances, have provided outstanding support to the UK and international community.”

All of the awards, announced on 9 January, will be presented at the RAS’s National Astronomy Meeting in July.