The David E. Laird Award
of the International Occultation Timing Association
Past Award Recipients
Gordon E. Taylor
Gordon E. Taylor - 2014 Award Recipient
The 2014 David E. Laird Award goes to Gordon E. Taylor of the UK
"for being the Father of Asteroidal Occultations,
His Role in Predictions for both Lunar and Planetary Events,
and for truly Pioneering Occultation Work since the 1950's."
Gordon Taylor is the father of asteroidal occultations, predicting these events since the early 1950’s and thereby securing the first definite observation of such an event. In the mid-1970’s, he spearheaded the effort to expand the predictions of additional asteroids as ephemerides improved, and better star catalogs became available. He was the first to use special astrometric observations to improve the predictions of events, a technique which proved to be crucial before the release of HIPPARCOS data in 1997. He worked closely with IOTA for many of the first asteroidal occultations we tried, such as the occultation of gamma Ceti A by (6) Hebe on 1977 March 5 that resulted in Paul Maley’s observation of a secondary occultation, largely responsible for starting IOTA’s claims that some asteroids likely have satellites.
Besides occultations by minor planets, Gordon also predicted occultations by major planets, notably the occultation of Regulus by Venus on 1959 July 7, and the occultation of beta Scorpii by Jupiter (and Io) on 1971 May 14. Gordon also worked in the Her Majesty’s Nautical Almanac Office (HMNAO) at the Royal Greenwich Observatory, where he also was instrumental in the programming for lunar occultation predictions and reductions, as noted by Alex Pratt in his article about the occultation machines in the latest issue of JOA. He was the longest-serving Director of the Computing Section of the British Astronomical Society from 1974 to 2009.
Comments by David Dunham