The prize is awarded annually to a member of the KNVWS or one of its working groups, who (as an amateur) has conducted work of scientific value, or who has seriously contributed to the popularization of astronomy. A list of past recipients (in Dutch) is here.
Last September I got a surprise phone call from the current KNVWS president, Niek de Kort, who informed me that the Van der Bilt Prize committee had decided to award the 2012 Van der Bilt Prize to me. Someone had nominated my name, and the committee chose me out of several nominees. I consider this a great honour!
The award is for my work on meteors, asteroids and artificial satellites. I have authored/co-authored several peer-reviewed publications on meteors, the result of participation in a number of scientific research expeditions during a.o. the Perseids, Leonids, and alpha Monocerotids of 1992-2002 and recently the Draconids of 2011. I do astrometry on asteroids, and discovered several new asteroids (including a NEA). And my work on artificial satellites is probably known to the reader as it is the main subject of this blog.
Yesterday (10 November 2012), on the Astrodag ("Astro Day") of the KNVWS in Goirle, the Prize was officially handed to me by KNVWS secretary Jan de Boer (see photograph below):
The Prize comes with a nicely calligraphed certificate (see first image in this post), listing the reasons for the award and then summing it up in an alliterating one-liner.
So it reads: "awarded because of his great merit as an observer of meteors, of asteroids and of satellites".
The alliterating one-liner following this is difficult to properly translate, but roughly translates to: "Discoverer of asteroids: at home among the gravel of the solar system" (the original in Dutch alliterates: "Thuis in het gruis van het zonnestelsel"), this referring to the central line of my interest: small solar system bodies.
The two little miniatures on the certificate show a golden meteor shooting across the starry sky, and a (slightly anthropomorph) asteroid.
Just like the naming of asteroid (183294) Langbroek after me a few years ago, I consider this award to be a great honour.
Below are some more pictures of the award ceremony. As is customary, I did a 45-minute talk following the acceptance of the award, my talk being titled "Hunting Asteroids".
(the pictures of the ceremony in this post were made by Robert Haas)