UCL Astrophysics Group


Professor Raman Prinja recognised with science communication award

7 October 2019

The American Institute of Physics has awarded Professor Raman Prinja, Head of UCL Physics & Astronomy, a science communication prize for his children’s book ‘Planetarium’.

Raman Prinja Planetarium

Since 1968, the American Institute of Physics has recognised journalists, authors, reporters and other diverse writers for their efforts in science communication.

This year, the Writing for Children prize has been awarded to Professor Prinja for his extensively illustrated and far-reaching guide to the universe.

The judging committee emphasised that ‘Planetarium’ is a book that can provide hours of education and family discussions. The committee was “impressed with the depth of scientific concepts and areas of astronomy covered in the book.”

In addition to his research on the evolution and properties of the most massive stars in the galaxy and their progression into supernovae, Professor Prinja has a personal goal of bringing astronomy to more diverse audiences, including children, and has written over 20 successful outreach-level science books.

On hearing the news, Professor Prinja said: “The universe and its incredible contents are my inspirations for ‘Planetarium.’ From planets to stars and galaxies, I particularly wanted to share the awe and excitement of space with the young readers. Chris Wormell’s stunning illustrations drove me further, and with ‘Planetarium,’ we really want inspire and enthuse the next generation of universe explorers!”

The winners of the 2019 Science Communication Awards were acknowledged for work on topics as varied as robotics inspired by animals, the nature of the universe, climate change, the awe and excitement of space, and the mystery of black holes.

The ‘book’ category was won by David L. Hu for “How to Walk on Water and Climb Up Walls” (Princeton University Press) and Marcia Bartusiak for “Dispatches from Planet 3” (Yale University Press). The ‘article’ category was won by Nathaniel Rich for “Losing Earth – The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change. A Tragedy in Two Acts” (New York Times Magazine), and the ‘broadcast and new media’ category was won by Rushmore DeNooyer for “NOVA - Black Hole Apocalypse” (the WGBH Educational Foundation).

"We are honoured to award these five incredible works of literature and film,” said AIP CEO Michael Moloney. “As masters of communication, this year’s winners have demonstrated unique, poignant and universally relevant storytelling about topical concepts that highlight the beauty of scientific discovery.”