September 8, 2010



Stargazer receives Earthly honour from

Royal Society


Hamilton, Ont. September 8, 2010There has been much excitement in the night sky this summer, but Doug Welch, professor of astronomy at McMaster University, has an Earthly delight to celebrate: he has been awarded the prestigious McNeil Medal by the Royal Society of Canada.


The McNeil Medal is awarded to a candidate who has demonstrated outstanding ability to promote and communicate science to students and the public within Canada. Previous winners include David Suzuki, Jay Ingram, and Bob McDonald.


“The award is a great honour,” said Welch who enjoys introducing the sky to everyone he meets. “There are so many people who have mentored me and shared my journey that I realize this is an award for them, too.”


Welch’s love of astronomy began in the mid-1960s, and he has been a professional stargazer for more than two decades. In that time, he has revived and directed the largest planetarium program in southern Ontario, which educates both the public and trains generations of new scientific explorers. He is the author of the successful children’s book Amazing Facts about Australia’s Southern Skies, now in its sixth printing, and is co-host of the popular Slacker Astronomy podcast (available on iTunes), collaborated on a museum art installation during the International Year of Astronomy 2009, and participates in many activities with amateur astronomers both to communicate science and to get them involved in research.


“We are so delighted that Professor Welch has accepted the McNeil Medal of the Society,” said RSC President Roderick A. Macdonald. “This recognition of Professor Welch’s career achievements speaks to his impact at McMaster University as well as his contribution to Canadian intellectual culture. We know that Professor Welch will be an enthusiastic and engaged award winner of the Society, demonstrating the same commitment to scholarly
excellence and collegiality that has characterized his outstanding career at McMaster.”


Welch will receive the Medal at an Induction and Awards Ceremony Nov. 27 at the National Gallery in Ottawa.


McMaster University, established in 1887, is one of four Canadian universities listed among the Top 100 universities in the world. Renowned for its innovation in both learning and discovery it has a student population of 23,000, and more than 145,000 alumni in 128 countries.




For more information, please contact:


Jane Christmas

Manager, Public & Media Relations

McMaster University

905-525-9140 ext. 27988


Michelle Donovan

Public Relations Manager: Broadcast Media

McMaster University

905-525-9140 ext. 22869