Dr. Rolf-Peter Kudritzki, director of the UH Institute for Astronomy, will receive the prestigious Karl Schwarzschild Prize for 2009 from the Astronomische Gesellschaft (German Astronomical Society) at its annual meeting in Potsdam, Germany, on September 22. This is the most prestigious award bestowed upon an astronomer in Germany.

As the recipient of the prize, Kudritzki will give the Karl Schwarzschild Lecture at the Astronomische Gesellschaft meeting. His lecture, which will be related to the title of the conference, “Deciphering the Universe through Spectroscopy,” will explain how studying very bright stars in distant galaxies can help us understand both the chemical composition of the galaxies and their distance from us. The lecture will subsequently be published in the journal Astronomische Nachrichten (Astronomical Notes) and in Reviews of Modern Astronomy.

In addition, Kudritzki will give a public lecture in Berlin on September 24 in which he will talk about “Killer Asteroids, Supernovae and the Dark Side of the Universe.” This talk is related to the ambitious University of Hawaii Pan-STARRS project, which will survey the whole sky for 10 years.

Before becoming director of the IfA in 2000, Kudritzki was an astronomy professor and director of the Munich University Observatory. He is a member of the German National Academy of Sciences and was designated a highly cited author of the Science Citation Index in 2006. His research interests include the study of the largest, hottest stars in our galaxy and beyond.

UH Manoa Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education Gary Ostrander said, “This is a significant and well-deserved honor that signifies the high regard of the scientific community for Dr. Kudritzki’s accomplishment. We are particularly pleased that he is both member of and director of our Institute for Astronomy.”

“I am both surprised and pleased to receive this honor,” said Kudritzki. “Usually, it is given to a non-German astronomer,” he added. Previous recipients of this prize include Nobel Prize winners Riccardo Giacconi, Joseph H. Taylor, Charles H. Townes, and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.

Founded in 1967, the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa conducts research into galaxies, cosmology, stars, planets, and the Sun. Its faculty and staff are also involved in astronomy education, deep space missions, and in the development and management of the observatories on Haleakala and Mauna Kea. Established in 1907 and fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the University of Hawaii is the state’s sole public system of higher education. The UH System provides an array of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees and community programs on 10 campuses and through educational, training, and research centers across the state. UH enrolls more than 50,000 students from Hawaii, the U.S. mainland, and around the world.