Description of the Fizeau Prize

The Fizeau and Michelson Prizes are two prizes in Astronomical Interferometry, sponsored by the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur and the Lowell Observatory. The two prizes are similar but complementary, with the Fizeau Prize emphasizing innovative technical and theoretical work, and the Michelson Prize emphasizing application of interferometry to astrophysical research. The Prizes were first created in 2010 by the then-IAU Commission 54 for Optical and Infrared Interferometry, OCA, and the Mt. Wilson Institute (MWI). In 2018 Lowell Observatory took over stewardship of the Michelson Prize.

The purpose of the Fizeau Prize is to provide recognition within the interferometry community, as well as in the broader science community, of theoretical and technical progress and developments in the rapidly growing field of optical interferometry, and to assist the OCA with engaging the community in promoting the future of optical interferometry. The Prize recognizes outstanding achievement in fundamentals and implementation of optical interferometry. The Prize may be given for significant theoretical and technical innovations, for instrument design and deployment, including programmatic and management accomplishments, for teaching, and for related public service. It recognizes a substantial history of contributions and international leadership as evidenced by one or more publications, advancement of knowledge, reputation, procurement and management of resources, and accomplishments of former students.

The Fizeau Prize will consist of a certificate of award, with a statement of the contributions and their significance, accompanied by a cash prize determined by the OCA. The Fizeau Prize for Contributions to Astronomical Optical Interferometry is jointly sponsored by the Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur (OCA) and the Lowell Observatory.

The OCA includes research departments that have a long and continuing history of innovative contributions to the development of optical interferometry.

A description of the Prize guidelines could be found here: Fizeau Prize Rules

Previous laureates

2018: Wesley TRAUB

2014: Christoph Leinert and William Tango

The Fizeau Lifetime Contributions Prize for 2014 is awarded to Dr. William Tango for his long-term efforts in forwarding the theory, technology and practice of optical interferometry. This is most clearly demonstrated in the publication of the seminal paper on interferometry in 1980, along with many other original works on a broad range of topics in the field. Dr. Tango has been involved in the construction & operation of several major ground based instruments, including most recently the Sydney University Stellar Interfereometer (SUSI).  The students he has mentored have themselves gone on to positions of leadership in this field, extending even further his wide-ranging influence on optical interferometry.

The Fizeau Investigator Prize for 2014 is awarded to Professor Christoph Leinert for his considerable scientific achivements throughout his career, and specifically for his role as Principal Investigator for the MIDI instrument on the VLTI.  His noteworthy career connects to a recurring theme of high angular resolution astronomy, which ultimately led him to long-baseline interferometry at the VLTI.  The remarkable success of MIDI can be directly connected to the scientific and technical leadership of Professor Leinert, resulting in breakthroughs in our understanding of active galactic nuclei, protoplanetary disks, and circumstellar envelopes of asymptotic giant branch stars ; this leadership has also been instrumental in significantly expanding the interferometry user community.  Professor Leinert’s success with the VLTI is inspiring the next generation of researchers and instrumentation to build on these successes.

2012 : Charles Townes.

The Fizeau Prize for 2012 is awarded for lifetime achievement to Professor Charles Hard Townes for his long-term commitment to and support of optical interferometry, especially in the mid-infrared, as evidenced by his work on the McMath prototype and Berkeley Infrared Spatial Interferometers. Professor Townes' development of heterodyne techniques, high-spectral resolution and closure phases at the ISI has produced dozens of highly cited and transformative papers in the studies of dust production and time-evolution of evolved stars. Further, Professor Townes' support and mentoring of 27 doctoral students and dozens of postdoctoral and junior colleagues, many of whom are well-established interferometrists and active researchers today, will leave an enduring legacy for the field of optical/infrared interferometry.

2010 : Antoine Labeyrie

The Fizeau Prize for 2010 is awarded for lifetime achievement to Professor Antoine Labeyrie for his invention of speckle interferometry, the development of the I2T and GI2T interferometers, and contributions to the development and implementation of the VLTI. Prof. Labeyrie's innovative genius challenges conventional wisdom with ideas such as the hypertelescope, laser-trapped space mirrors, and pupil densification; his visionary work has meant much to the community, and has been a forceful reminder that our scientific ambitions are limited only by our imaginations.