The board of the Nederlandse Astronomenclub (NAC) awarded the Willem de Graaff award 2016 to astronomer Dr. Joeri van Leeuwen (ASTRON, UvA).

Published by the editorial team, 23 May 2016

The jury praises van Joeri's enormous merits in the popularization of astronomy. This on various subjects, in various forms and for a diverse audience, from young to old. "In addition, Van Leeuwen shows that his experience with popularization ensures proper feedback to the research community, in the form of good colleges for students and excellent speeches at conferences."

The jury was impressed by the way Joeri uses modern channels of communication in a high-quality fashion, and thereby reaches a wide audience in an enthusiastic manner. Joeri was a co-writer and presenter of TV programs like Het Klokhuis and Heel Nederland Kijkt Sterren. Furthermore, Joeri does not hesitate to bring seemingly complicated questions about black holes or the theory of relativity back to essence with animations and social media."By honouring him, the price is also an encouragement for young people to follow in his footsteps", said the jury.

Prof dr. Willem de Graaff (1923-2004) was the leader of the Physical Department (1960-1976) of the Utrecht Laboratory for Space Research of the Committee for Geophysics and Space Research (GROC) of the KNAW. Besides his work as a physicist and especially after his retirement, he has worked for decades to interest a wide audience for space and astronomy. For many years he was chairman of the board of the foundation ‘De Koepel'.

As an expression of appreciation and gratitude, the board of the foundation 'De Koepel' established the Willem de Graaff Prize in 2007. The price is primarily meant for someone who is professionally engaged in astronomy and / or space research and also contributes to the popularization of these scientific fields.

The prize is both a reward as an encouragement to activities that were important to Willem de Graaff. The prize of € 1500 is awarded every three years. In 2007, the prize was awarded for the first time to Prof. Dr. John Heise from Utrecht. In 2010 the prize was awarded to Prof. Dr. Vincent Icke from Leiden and in 2013 to Prof. Dr. Peter Barthel.

The winner of the Willem de Graaff Price receives an amount of € 1500. The award will be presented today at the 71st Dutch Astronomers Conference in Nunspeet.

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