The Richard Robinson Medal and Lecture

The Robinson Medal is awarded in memory and honour of Archbishop Richard Robinson, Baron Rokeby of Armagh, the founder of Armagh Observatory. 

The Observatory was founded by Robinson, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.  Robinson’s legacy includes many buildings in County Armagh, for example the Archbishop’s Palace, the Armagh Public Library, the new Royal School or “College”, the Infirmary, and finally the Armagh Observatory.  The first Astronomer was the Revd Dr James Archibald Hamilton.  A Board of Governors was established with Primate Robinson’s wish that it would continue to comprise the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh together with the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral.   

Robinson may have been influenced in his decision to found the Observatory through contacts with William Herschel, whom he first met in Bath in 1766, and correspondence with the Revd Hamilton, an active astronomer who owned a private observatory at Cookstown while he was Rector of Kildress.  Hamilton had corresponded with the Astronomer Royal, the Revd Nevil Maskelyne on a variety of topics including meteors, longitude determination, and the 1782 transit of Mercury.  The Act of Parliament … settling and preserving a public Observatory and Museum in the City of Armagh, for ever… was passed in 1791 in the Irish Parliament in Dublin.  

The Robinson Medal and Lecture was instigated following the Observatory’s bicentenary celebrations in 1990.  A silver replica of the original medal struck by the great Irish medallist, Mossop of Dublin, in 1789 to mark the commencement of the construction of the Observatory, would be awarded to a distinguished scientist.  The obverse side depicts Primate Robinson, while the reverse side features the south elevation of the Observatory and the motto: “The Heavens Declare the Glory of God”.  Along with the medal goes an invitation to deliver a public lecture to the wider community, illustrating recent developments in astronomy and related sciences.   

Robinson Medal Recipients

Year Recipients Robinson Lecture Title
1992 Professor Arnold W Wolfendale FRS, Astronomer Royal New Views of the Heavens
1994 Professor Rodney D Davies FRS Whispers from the Big Bang
1996 Dr Duncan Steel Project Spaceguard: Will Humankind go the way of the Dinosaurs
1998 Professor John C Brown, FRSE, Astronomer Royal for Scotland Life in a Stormy Universe
2000 Dr Ian Crawford The Scientific Case for Human Spaceflight
2002 Professor Carl Murray In Search of Origins: The Cassini / Huygens Mission to Saturn
2004 Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell FRS Tick, Tick, Tick, Pulsating Star, How We Wonder What You Are!
2006 Professor Eric Priest FRS Our Enigmatic Sun
2008 Professor Peter W J L Brand FRSE God and the Universe God and the Universe
2010Professor Chris Impey Astrobiology: Implications of Life Beyond Earth
2012Professor David Southwood To Mars, Titan and the Universe Beyond!
2017Professor Louise Harra Solar Orbiter - a journey towards the Sun exploring space weather
2019Professor Monica Grady Collisions and Catastrophes
2021 Professor Catriona Jackman Adventures in the Outer Solar System
2023Professor Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, Astronomer Royal From Mars to the Multiverse

Sign up to our Newsletter

To keep up to date with our latest news & events.

Newsletter Signup
Form Validation