November 2020: Osterbrock Book Prize for Decoding the Stars: A Biography of Angelo Secchi, Jesuit and Scientist

The Historical Astronomy Division of the American Astronomy Society awarded the 2021 Donald E. Osterbrock Book Prize to Ileana Chinnici for her book Decoding the Stars: A Biography of Angelo Secchi, Jesuit and Scientist. Chinnici published her book — the first English-language, full-length biography of Italian astronomer Angelo Secchi (1818-1878) — as part of the Jesuit Studies Book Series at Brill in 2019.


The Osterbook Prize is awarded “biennially to the author(s) of a book judged to advance the field of the history of astronomy or to bring history of astronomy to light.” In her account of Secchi, who was central to the transition from classical positional astronomy to astrophysics, Chinnici examines Secchi’s research as well as the broader environment in which he worked. More information about the Osterbook Prize is available at:

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