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November 17, 2006

Dr. Andrew Fraknoi, Chair, Astronomy Program, Foothill College, 11-17-06

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Dr. Andrew Fraknoi is the Chair of the Astronomy Program at Foothill College near San Francisco, where he teaches popular courses on introductory astronomy and “physics for poets” (attended by over 900 students each year.) He has given more than 400 public lectures on such topics as: “Is There Worthwhile Real Estate (and Could There Be Real Estate Agents) on Other Worlds?,” and “Why Falling into a Black Hole is a Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience.”

For 14 years, Dr. Fraknoi served as the Executive Director of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, an international scientific and educational organization founded in 1889. He was also editor of its popular level magazine, Mercury, and founded its newsletter for teachers, The Universe in the Classroom. He also founded Project ASTRO, a program that brings professional and amateur astronomers into 4th – 9th grade classrooms for ongoing partnerships with local teachers (now in 13 regional sites around the U.S.).

A prolific author, Dr. Fraknoi has edited two collections of science articles and science fiction stories for Bantam Books, and is the lead author of Voyages through the Universe (Brooks-Cole/Thomson), which has become one of the leading introductory astronomy textbooks in the world. He is also editor of a two-volume teaching guide called The Universe at Your Fingertips, which is filled with astronomy activities and teaching resources for instructors in grades 4–12. With Sidney Wolff, he is co-editor of a new on-line journal/magazine about space science education, called Astronomy Education Review, published with the support of the National Optical Astronomy Observatories and NASA.

Dr. Fraknoi serves on the Board of Trustees of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, a scientific and educational organization involved in identifying possible signals from civilizations around other stars. He served on the Astronomy Education Board of the American Astronomical Society and is a Fellow of the California Academy of Science.

Educated at Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley, Dr. Fraknoi has taught astronomy and physics at San Francisco State University, the City College of San Francisco, Canada College, and several campuses of the University of California Extension Division.

In 1994, he received the Annenberg Foundation Prize of the American Astronomical Society (the highest honor in the field of astronomy education), as well as the Klumpke-Roberts Prize of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (given for a lifetime of contributions to popularizing astronomy.) He was the first recipient of the Carl Sagan Prize, given to a San Francisco Bay Area scientist whose activities in public education have been especially noteworthy.

Asteroid 4859 has been named Asteroid Fraknoi by the International Astronomical Union to honor his work in sharing the excitement of modern astronomy with students, teachers, and the public.

Posted by David Lemberg at November 17, 2006 01:01 PM Return to SCIENCE AND SOCIETY home page