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Andrew Fraknoi

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Andrew Fraknoi is an astronomer and science educator who is known for his skill in interpreting astronomical discoveries and ideas in everyday language. Fraknoi is the Chair of the Astronomy Program at Foothill College near San Francisco, where he teaches courses on “astronomy and physics for poets” attended by 900+ students each year. In 2007, he was selected as Professor of the Year for the state of California by the Carnegie Endowment for Higher Education.

For 14 years, Fraknoi served as the Executive Director of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, an international scientific and educational organization founded in 1889. He founded and directed Project ASTRO, a program that trains and brings professional and amateur astronomers into 4th - 9th grade classrooms (now in 12 regional sites throughout the U.S.). He still works part time as Senior Educator at the Society, editing an on-line column and working on outreach projects.

A prolific author, 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 (now in its third edition from Brooks-Cole), which has become one of the leading astronomy textbooks. He is also the editor of a teaching and activity guide called The Universe at Your Fingertips – one of the most widely used astronomy education resources. His children’s book on astronomy, Disney’s Wonderful World of Space, was published in 2007 and is now available in paperback. With Dr. Sidney Wolff, he was the founding editor of Astronomy Education Review, an on-line journal/magazine about astronomy education.

Radio listeners know Fraknoi as a frequent guest on local and national news and talk programs. In Northern California, he appeared for over 25 years on the Jim Eason Show and The Pete Wilson Show and now is a regular on the Gil Gross Program on KGO. He has also been one of the most regular guests on the Forum program (with Michael Krasny) on KQED, and is the “astronomer-in residence” on the syndicated Mark and Brian Show out of Los Angeles. Nationally, he has been heard on Science Friday and Weekend All Things Considered on National Public Radio.

Fraknoi serves as the Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, a scientific and educational organization. A few years ago, he was elected a Fellow of the California Academy of Science. 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.) In 2007, he received the Gemant Prize of the American Institute of Physics, for making connections between physics and culture (Stephen Hawking and the Producer of NOVA on PBS were previous winners.) In 2011, he was elected Honorary Member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, a distinction given to only 15 living astronomers at any given epoch. 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.


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