David Allen Prize

Dr David Allen was a highly innovative and prolific astronomer. He was one of the founding astronomers for the Anglo-Australian Observatory (AAO) and worked there from 1975 until his untimely death in 1994, at the age of 47. David was internationally recognised as a pioneer of infrared astronomy and was largely responsible for the design and development of the Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (IRIS) built by the AAO.

David was also strongly committed to advancing the public understanding of astronomy and had a unique ability to get his message across. He was popular on the ABC’s science program sharing his excitement and wonder of astronomy. In 1993, he was awarded the ABC Eureka Prize for the Promotion of Science for ‘raising public awareness of astronomical research through lectures and writing for radio and television.

The David Allen Prize is awarded by the Astronomical Society of Australia for exceptional achievement in astronomy communication. The prize is normally awarded every three years.

The Prize consists of a commemorative plaque together with an award of $5,000. It is presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Astronomical Society of Australia.

Nominations for the 2027 David Allen Prize will open in December 2026, with a closing date of mid-February 2027.

Caption: Russell Scott receiving the 2015 David Allen Prize on behalf of Swinburne Astronomy Productions


To be eligible for the Prize the outreach activity:

  • must have been undertaken in Australia, by an Australian citizen or permanent resident or an Australian institution.
  • must have been published, performed or have occurred within three (3) years prior to the closing date of nominations.
  • can be broad in scope including public presentations, popular writing, sustained media and outreach events, on-line activities and/or any innovative and creative activity that achieves astronomy outreach.

Previous winners of the David Allen Prize are ineligible for nomination.


Nominations must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • a letter of nomination up to 2 pages in length, that describes the approach taken to engage the audience and the impact and reach of the work.
  • a sample of the work, for example digital videos, books, articles or website address.
  • the contact details of two referees familiar with the work.
  • if the applicant is nominated by a third party, written acceptance by the applicant of the nomination.

Nominations should be emailed to the ASA Prizes and Awards Coordinator Dr Tanya Hill – thill@museum.vic.gov.au.

An assessment committee nominated by the ASA Council will evaluate the submitted materials and make a recommendation to the Council. The decision of the ASA Council is final, including the decision not to award a prize in any given year.

Limited travel funds to support attendance at the ASA Annual Scientific Meeting may be made available at the discretion of the ASA Council.

Previous Winners

Geraint Lewis, The University of Sydney
ABC Stargazing Live
Swinburne Astronomy Productions, Swinburne University of Techonology
Dr Charley Lineweaver, Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Mt Stromlo Observatory
Martin George, Manager, Planetarium and Space Sciences at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston
Fred Watson, Astronomer-in-Charge, Anglo-Australian Observatory
Jonathon Nally, then editor of Sky & Space magazine.