TWAN Director Receives Lennart Nilsson Award

2009 September 24

The 2009 Lennart Nilsson Award is to be presented to American
planetary scientist Carolyn Porco and Iranian photographer and science
journalist Babak A. Tafreshi in recognition of their photographic
work, which — each from its own perspective — recalls humankind’s
place in the universe. The prize is the world’s most prestigious
distinction in scientific and medical photography.

The annual Lennart Nilsson Award is presented in honor of the legendary Swedish photographer, who has been working with imagery at
Karolinska Institute in Stockholm for decades. Like Lennart Nilsson,
this year’s recipients, Carolyn Porco and Babak A. Tafreshi, have
captured worlds that are otherwise hidden from human sight.
The panel’s citation reads as follows:
“Babak A. Tafreshi’s photographs reclaim a night sky that most modern
people have lost. He takes us to remote places where the stars still
look like they did at the dawn of mankind. His work calls to mind the
beauty of the universe and human life on our planet.”
“Carolyn Porco combines the finest techniques of planetary exploration
and scientific research with aesthetic finesse and educational talent.
While her images, which depict the heavenly bodies of the Saturn
system with unique precision, serve as tools for the world’s leading
experts, they also reveal the beauty of the universe in a manner that
is an inspiration to one and all.”

Carolyn Porco Carolyn Porco was born in 1953 in New York. She earned her PhD in 1983
from the California Institute of Technology’s Division of Geological
and Planetary Sciences. She is currently employed at the Space Science
Institute in Boulder Colorado where she leads CICLOPS, the laboratory
where images from NASA’s and ESA’s Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn
are processed, captioned and posted for public release. Carolyn Porco
and her scientific colleagues have published numerous groundbreaking
scientific papers about Saturn and its rings and moons, and have
discovered six moons, several rings and jets of water ice erupting
from the south pole of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, all previously
unknown to astronomers. She has previously worked with the Voyager
probe and imaged Uranus and Neptune. Carolyn Porco is also a member of
the group tasked with taking pictures of Pluto when it is finally
reached by the New Horizons probe in 2015.

Babak A. Tafreshi, photographer, science journalist, and amateur
astronomer, was born in Tehran in 1978. His photographs from his
expeditions around the world have been published in foreign journals,
on TV, and on the NASA website, and have featured in a number of
international exhibitions. From 1997 to 2007 he was editor, and later
editor-in-chief, of the Iranian astronomy magazine Nojum. He has appeared many times on television and radio programs on astronomy. Babak A.
Tafreshi is a member of the board of advisors of Astronomers Without
Borders and a project coordinator for the International Year of
Astronomy 2009. Tafreshi is also the creator and the driving force behind
TWAN (The World At Night).

The Lennart Nilsson Award was inaugurated in 1998 and is administered
by Karolinska Institutet. The university’s president, Professor
Harriet Wallberg-Henriksson, serves as chairperson of the Lennart
Nilsson Award Foundation and takes part in the selection of the prize
winners. The award ceremony will be held in the Berwald Hall in Stockholm on 28
October and Lennart Nilsson himself will also attend the

This is the second Lennart Nilsson Award for The World at Night team. In the year 2000 the world-known astrophotographer, David Malin, received the award.

For more information about the 2009 Lennart Nillson Award visit the award webpage on Karolinska institute website.

Visit starryscape photos by Babak Tafreshi on his TWAN gallery.
See New Scientist news note and slide show on the award and Babak Tafreshi images.
Read Sky&Telescope news report on 2009 Lennart Nilsson Award.


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