Masato Oshima
2001winners self-actualization
First in the world to discover an outburst of a WZ Sagittae-type dwarf nova, using his home telescope
Masato Oshima

Born: 1984; from: Gifu Prefecture, Japan

Award summary

He was the first in the world to discover the unexpected brightening of "WZ", a recurring nova in the Sagitta, a constellation which appears in the summer, that suddenly brightened well before the event was predicted to occur. He saw it at a little past 10:30 pm in late July 2001, when he was looking at stars through a telescope at his home. The news was notified to an international organization over the Internet. Successive confirmations in other countries then followed. The brightening of WZ is a phenomenon that usually recurs once every 33 years. It had been predicted that the next one would not occur until around 2011, but it appeared 10 years ahead of time.

Reasons for this award

One expert (Mr. Taichi Kato, assistant, Seminar of Astrophysics, Kyoto University) commended his achievement, saying "Having captured one of only a few opportunities in a century, it is certainly a spectacular achievement. Thanks to his discovery, I expect the elucidation of the explosion mechanism of supernovae will be advanced very significantly." His achievement was the outcome of an unceasing daily commitment to look at the sky for 2 to 3 hours. He has done this since he was an elementary school student, so this achievement can in no way be dismissed as just a lucky encounter. We would like to commend him as an outstanding figure who has inspired the young people of his generation to never give up their dreams and hopes.

Comments from the winner

I was surprised to hear the sudden news that I would be granted this award. There are many people in Japan who are involved in astronomy as well as making strenuous efforts in various fields. So I wondered if I really deserved this exalted honor. I hope to continue studying astronomy and intend to increase my efforts.