Andrew Fraknoi

Andrew Fraknoi, M.A., is an astronomy professor at Foothill College and the 2007 California Professor of the Year awarded by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Fraknoi also won the Astronomical Society of the Pacific's 2007 Richard H. Emmons award, the American Institute of Physics's 2007 Andrew Gemant Award (given for a lifetime of contributions to the intersection of physics and culture), and the American Astronomical Society's 1994 Annenberg Foundation Award (for a lifetime of contributions to astronomy education.)

Fraknoi served as the Executive Director of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific from 1978 to 1992, edited its popular-level magazine, Mercury, and founded its newsletter for teachers, called The Universe in the Classroom. He was the founder and director of a program called "Project ASTRO," which sets up partnerships between volunteer astronomers and 4th - 9th grade teachers; each astronomer "adopts" one classroom for a year, visiting at least four times and working with the teacher to do hands-on activities in astronomy. The program is still operating in 12 sites around the country. Later he founded and directed "Family ASTRO" -- a project to design activities, kits and games to help families share the excitement of astronomical discovery. Fraknoi now works at the Society as Senior Educator, and edits an on-line column for its members, called "Astronomy Beat". Every three years, he organizes a national symposium for the Society called "Cosmos in the Classroom," which brings together 150 to 200 instructors of introductory college astronomy courses to learn and talk about how such courses can be made even more effective.

Fraknoi is the lead author of "Voyages through the Universe", an introductory college astronomy textbook, now in its third edition, published by Brooks-Cole. In 2007, his first children's book, entitled Wonderful World of Space, was published by Disney. In the 1980s he co-edited with Bryon Preiss two collections of science articles and science fiction stories, published by Bantam Books, called "The Universe" and "The Planets." With Sidney Wolff, Fraknoi founded and is co-editor of the first on-line journal devoted to astronomy education, "Astronomy Education Review" (found at:

In addition to astronomy, Fraknoi also teaches courses in the area of "physics for poets." His interdisciplinary course on Einstein's life and work, Physics 12, won the 2005 “Innovation of the Year” award from the League for Innovation. In the course, students learn about some of the areas on modern physics that Einstein had a role in creating or changing, and then read novels, stories, and poems, and hear music influenced by Einstein's work and ideas. Fraknoi frequently writes articles on interdisciplinary topics, such as using music, poetry, or science fiction to teach science. His list of science fiction stories with good astronomy in them can be found at His list of astronomically inspired music can be seen at:

Fraknoi has served on the Board of Trustees of the SETI Institute -- a scientific and educational organization devoted to the search for life in the universe—since its inception in 1985. In 2010 he was elected vice-chair of the Board. He was also on the program committee planning the first SETIcon—a national weekend public conference devoted to the scientific quest for our counterparts among the stars, in August 2010.

The International Astronomical Union has named Asteroid 4859 Asteroid Fraknoi to recognize his contributions to science education and to the public understanding of astronomy.