Andrew Fraknoi


Andrew 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.) He has given more than 400 public lectures on such topics as “What Were the Atoms in Your Body Doing 8 Billion Years Ago?” and “Why Falling into a Black Hole is a Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience.”

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 was also editor of its popular level magazine, Mercury, and its newsletter for teachers, The Universe in the Classroom. He founded and directed Project ASTRO, a program that trains and brings professional and amateur astronomers into 4th - 9th grade classrooms (now in 13 regional sites throughout the U.S.) to help teachers be more effective in covering astronomy and space science. An offshoot, called Family ASTRO, bring hands-on astronomy events and games to families around the country.

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 (1997-2004, now in its 3rd edition from Brooks-Cole), which has become one of the leading astronomy textbooks in the world. He is also the editor of a two-volume teaching guide called The Universe at Your Fingertips – one of the most widely used astronomy education resources. His children’s book on astronomy, Wonderful World of Space, was published by Disney in Summer 2007. With Dr. Sidney Wolff, he is the founding editor of Astronomy Education Review, an on-line journal/magazine about astronomy and space science education.

Radio listeners know Fraknoi as a frequent guest on local and national news and talk programs. He is currently 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. His TV appearances include The Today Show, CBS Morning News, and Larry King Live.

Fraknoi serves on the Board of Trustees of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, a scientific and educational organization. He is also a Fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), specializing in debunking astrology.

Educated at Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley, 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.) His “Physics for Poets: Everything You Wanted to Know about Einstein but Were Afraid to Ask” course received the 2005 “Innovation of the Year” award from the League for Innovation.

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.