The Donovan Astronomical Trust

The Donovan Astronomical Trust was founded in 1923 by Mr Thomas Donovan LL.B who was born in Sydney Australia in 1843 and died in 1929 at the age of 86. He was a Barrister, called to the Bar at Middle Temple, London in 1884 and to the Bar at New South Wales, Australia in the same year. An author of original contributions on the works of Shakespeare, he was keenly interested in public affairs and was noted for his munificence. Mr Donovan assisted in the endowment of a Chair of Astronomy at the University of Sydney.

Mr Donovan set aside the annual income from an investment of AUD 1,000 in a trust to be used for:

“the promotion of Education in Australasia in Astronomical Science, whether by study of or research work upon Astronomical subjects by students or other original investigators living in Australasia; prizes to Australasian students for the best essays or monographs on Astronomical subjects; the granting of bursaries or the creation of scholarships for Australasian students who take up as a subject the science of Astronomy; or in such other manner as may in the opinion of the committee hereafter referred to, be considered best for the promotion of Education in Astronomy in Australasia”.

The Trust is administered by a Committee consisting of three members:

  • The President of the Royal Society of New South Wales
  • The President of the British Astronomical Association of New South Wales
  • The Honorary Secretary, appointed by the Council of the Astronomical Society of Australia.

Contributions towards the cost of presenting lectures on Astronomy have been one of the ways in which the Trust helps fulfil its role in furthering education in Astronomy. Donovan lectures have been presented by University Professors, Government Astronomers, Visiting Scientists from overseas Institutions and Amateur Astronomers and these have covered a wide range of astronomical topics.

Prizes, generally in the form of an award of the Donovan Medal, have been awarded for original work such as the discovery of comets and special photographic observations of solar eclipses. Cash prizes as well as medals have been made to scientists and students for essays and monographs.

The Trust has given financial assistance towards the cost of astronomical publications and star charts have been published which are of general educational interest.


Applications for support

The Trust invites submissions for financial assistance from any interested person or organization concerned with the progress of Astronomy with a view to the promotion of education in Astronomy in Australasia.

The sums of money available for distribution are such that only limited support is possible and applicants should make realistic estimates win support of their requests.

All requests should be addressed to the Honorary Secretary.

Mr Robert Hollow
Education & Outreach Officer
CSIRO Astronomy & Space Science
PO Box 76
Epping NSW 1710  Australia
robert.hollow -@-



If you are interested in furthering the aims of the Donovan Astronomical Trust an ideal way is by means of a bequest. Simply request the appropriate form from the Honorary Secretary. The form should be completed and returned to the Public Trustee.