Andrew Fraknoi

Andrew Fraknoi
Contact Information
Organization:Foothill College
Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Rd.,
Los Altos Hills, CA 94022, USA
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Andrew Fraknoi is a 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. He has given more than 400 public lectures on such topics as “What Were the Atoms in Your Body Doing 8 Billion Years Ago?”

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 12 regional sites throughout the U.S.). An offshoot, called Family ASTRO, brings hands-on astronomy events and games to families around the country. 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 (1997-2004, now in its 3rd edition from Brooks-Cole), which has become one of the leading astronomy textbooks. 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, 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. His TV appearances include The Today Show, CBS Morning News, and Larry King Live.

Fraknoi serves as the Vice-Chair of 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 Scientific Inquiry, specializing in debunking astrology. A few years ago, he was elected a Fellow of the California Academy of Science. In 2009 he served as national secretary for the program committee for the International Year of Astronomy, celebrating the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first use of the telescope.

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.) 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.) 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.

Professional Information
Primary Forum:Astrophysics
My Professional Societies:

American Astronomical Society
Astronomical Society of the Pacific
American Association of Physics Teachers
National Association of Science Writers

National Science Teachers Association