University of Arizona Regents Professor Roger Angel is among the winners of the 1-million-dollar Kavli Prize for Astrophysics. Professor Angel was recognized for his method of building larger telescope mirrors. He's the founder of the UA Steward Observatory Lab which has produced giant honeycomb mirrors for several telescopes including the Large Binocular Telescope on Mt. Graham in southeastern Arizona.
Dr. Angel says, "I was very surprised by the news and learned about it when they called me from Norway at 5:30 Thursday morning. I guess the King presents the award so my wife and I better make plans to travel to Oslo this September to receive it." He also said, "it's a a big deal, and since there is no Nobel Prize for astronomy, this is probably the highest honor I could be awarded in this field."
Dr. Angel will share the prize with two other scientists who are also well known for their work in telescope design. Dr. Jerry Nelson of the University of California, Santa Cruz builds giant telescope mirrors, notably the 10-meter-diameter telescopes on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, considered the largest on Earth. Also, Raymond N. Wilson, formerly of the European Southern Observatory in Germany. Dr. Wilson spearheaded the technology of active optics which enables telescope mirrors to eliminate distortions caused by wind or temperature.
Currently Dr. Angel is working on the next generation of land based telescopes, including the Giant Magellan Telescope, which will have seven 8.4-meter mirrors. The first mirror for the GMT is almost completed.
This year 8 scientists will share a total of $3 million from the Kavli Foundation, it was started by Fred Kavli, a Norwegian-American physicist.
The prizes were first distributed in 2008 and are a partnership of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, The Kavli Foundation and the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. The honors were announced on Thursday as part of the World Science Festival in Oslo, Norway