Bill Stothard Memorial Award in Astronomy

Bill Stothard
Bill Stothard

In early 2020, the Stothard family created and endowed the Bill Stothard Memorial Award in Astronomy to honour the man who became their patriarch. Bill Stothard (1898-1967) was an extraordinarily generous man, and among his many skills and attributes was an abiding passion for astronomy.

From a very young age, Bill possessed an innate curiosity about all that lies beyond Earth’s atmosphere. As an adult, he became a skilled journeyman/welder by trade, but he remained an avid amateur observational astronomer at heart. 

Bill’s enthusiasm for new techniques with which to explore space, combined with his talent as a machinist, enabled him to build his own telescopes – including shaping and coating the optical components – so as to to search the dark night skies from his east Vancouver backyard.

Bill’s belief in the ongoing significance of advances in astronomy came to be shared by his family, and they decided that an award to encourage talented young astronomers was a fitting way in which to memorialize him.

2021/22 Inaugural Recipient

The inaugural recipient of this new award is Joshua MacEachern, 2nd year MSc Astronomy. Josh's research focuses on physical cosmology, which is the study of the universe on the largest scales and how the universe evolves throughout cosmic time. Josh is working with his colleagues to design and build a custom 4 metre radio telescope that will create one of the most precise maps ever made of polarized light from our galaxy. Mapping the northern sky at a radio frequency of 10 GHz, this new telescope will help uncover a signal from the early universe that, if detected, would let us study some of the highest energy physics in the known universe.

"I am so deeply honoured and excited to be the inaugural recipient of this award and want to sincerely thank the Stothard family for making this award possible. It's an incredible feeling to receive an award in the name of such a great man." - Josh MacEachern

Colin Gay, Professor and Head, UBC Department of Physics & Astronomy, presents Joshua MacEachern with a letter from the Stothard family and a copy of The Midnight Sky: Familiar Notes on the Stars and Planets, by Edwin Dunkin, a famous nineteenth-century British astronomer. The book is symbolic: Bill Stothard received "The Midnight Sky" as a present in 1905, when he was a young boy, and he kept it throughout his life.

Donations to the Bill Stothard Memorial Award in Astronomy are welcome, and will grow the fund. For information, please contact PHAS Communications Coordinator Kirsty Dickson (; 604-822-0596), or donate online directly using the button, below.