Astronomy Education: A Selective Bibliography

Version 2.2; June 1998
by Andrew Fraknoi
(Foothill College & the Astronomical Society of the Pacific)

©1998, Andrew Fraknoi, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 390 Ashton Ave., San Francisco, CA 94112. E-mail: fraknoiandrew {at}

This is a brief listing of some books and articles about astronomy and space science education at various levels from graduate school to grade school and at various types of institutions. It is by no means comprehensive, but merely designed to help those approaching the field become acquainted with the rich literature that already exists. (Suggestions are most welcome.)

Table of Contents:

1.   General Reports on Astronomy Education
2.   Review Articles
3.   Government & Organizational Reports
4.   Graduate-level Astronomy Education
5.   Teaching College Non-science Majors
6.   K-12 Astronomy Education
7.   Articles on K-12 Education Reform
8.   Astron. Education at Planetaria & Museums
9.   Astron. Education through the Media
10. Astron. Education with Computers
11. Teaching Resources for Astronomy

1. General Reports on Astronomy Education

Berendzen, R., ed. Education in and History of Modern Astronomy. 1972, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Vol. 198.
One of the first attempts to systematize and collect information on astronomy education.

Fraknoi, A., et al., eds. The Universe at Your Fingertips: An Astronomy Activity and Resource Notebook. 1995, Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
An 813-page compilation of hands-on activities, resource lists, and teaching ideas; designed for grades 4-12, but usable at many levels and settings. A product of the Society's Project ASTRO.

Hunt, J., ed. COSMOS: An Educational Challenge: Proceedings of a 1986 GIREP Conference. 1986, European Space Agency Publications SP-253.
Brings together a wide range of mostly European contributions on astronomy education at all levels.

Pasachoff, J. & Percy, J., eds. The Teaching of Astronomy. 1990, Cambridge U. Press.
Proceedings of an international colloquium on astronomy education in the US and elsewhere.

Pennypacker, C., ed. Hands-on Astronomy for Education. 1992, World Publishing.
Proceedings of a 1990 conference emphasizing computers and small telescopes, especially in high school settings.

Percy, J., ed. Astronomy Education: Current Developments, Future Coordination. 1996, Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series, Vol. 89.
The most up-to-date and comprehensive introduction to current issues and projects in astronomy education; with good reviews and resources.

Sletteback, A. & Jettner, F. "Proceedings of the Conference on Education in Astronomy, August 1969" in Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, vol. 2, p. 254 (1970).
Interesting papers showing the concerns and projects of the 1960's, some of which are still very much with us today.

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2. Review Articles

Bishop, J. "Astronomy Education in the U.S.: Out from Under a Black Cloud" in The Griffith Observer, Mar. 1980, p. 2.
Good historical overview of the rise and fall of astronomy in the school curriculum and some educational projects in the 1970's. (See also her "U.S. Astronomy Education: Past, Present and Future" in Science Education, vol. 61, no. 3, p. 295; 1977.)

Fraknoi, A. "The State of Astronomy Education in the U.S." in Percy, J., ed. Astronomy Education: Current Developments, Future Coordination. 1996, Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series, Vol. 89.
Sixteen-page overview of astronomy education in many settings. (Accompanied, later in the same book, by a "Catalog of National Astronomy Education Projects".)

Sadler, P. "Astronomy's Conceptual Hierarchy" in Percy, J., ed. Astronomy Education: Current Developments, Future Coordination. 1996, Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series, Vol. 89.
How students learn (and don't learn) astronomical ideas.

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3. Relevant Government and Organizational Reports and Documents

American Association for the Advancement of Science: Project 2061: Science for All Americans. 1990, Oxford U. Press. Project 2061: Benchmarks for Science Literacy. 1994, Oxford U. Press.
Two reports from the pioneering study of how to reform science education.

National Academy of Sciences: Reshaping the Graduate Education of Scientists and Engineers. 1995, National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20418.
A discussion of the issues across disciplines. (Available on the Web at

NASA: Implementing the Office of Space Science Education/Public Outreach Strategy. 1996, NASA report.
A strategy for leveraged ways NASA and its scientists can contribute to education. Contact Jeff Rosendhal (

NASA: Partners in Education: A Strategy for Integrating Education and Public Outreach into NASA's Space Science Programs. 1995, NASA OSS.

National Research Council: National Science Education Standards. 1996, National Academy Press.
The result of a national effort to define how science should be taught and what is needed to bring about reform.

National Research Council: The Role of Scientists in the Professional Development of Teachers. (1996, Nat'l Academy Press).
Done for biologists but with much to say to all of us.

National Research Council: Science Teaching Reconsidered: A Handbook. 1997, National Academy Press.
A summary of ideas and resources for college instructors. Nothing on astronomy, but some good ideas and references in general.

Sigma Xi: Scientists, Educators, and National Standards: Action at the Local Level. 1994, Sigma Xi, Forum Coordinator, P.O. Box 13975, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709.
Proceedings of a 1994 forum, bringing together educators and scientists. Has a good catalog of projects in many disciplines.

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4. Graduate-level Astronomy Education

Cardelli, J. "Soft Money, Hard Times" in Mercury, Jan/Feb. 1996, p. 30.
On a survey showing employment prospects & attitudes.

Chamberlain, J. "Proceedings of the First U.S. Conference on Graduate Education in Astronomy" in Astronomical Journal, vol. 68, p. 215 (April 1963).
Interesting to compare to the concern of today.

Diamond, Robert, and Adam, Bronwyn. Recognizing Faculty Work: Reward Systems for the Year 2000. 1993, Jossey-Bass.
Argues for a broader definition of what constitutes scholarship.

Franz, J., ed. Physics Graduate Education for Diverse Career Options. 1995, American Association of Physics Teachers, 1 Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740.
Proceedings of a very useful conference of physics department chairs, with immediate application to astronomy.

Mulvey, P. & Nicholson, S. "Roster of Astronomy Departments with Enrollments and Degree Data, 1995" in AIP Report, No. R-395.2, Sept. 1996. (AIP Statistics Division, 1 Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740)

Osterbrock, D. "Graduate Astronomy Education in the Early Days of Lick Observatory" in Mercury, Nov/Dec. 1980, p. 151.
Contrasts a century ago to today.

Pound, M. "Advice Concerning the Overproduction of Astronomy PhD's" in AAS Newsletter, Oct. 1996, p. 2.

Strom, S., et al. "The AAS Examination of Graduate Education in Astronomy" in Bulletin of the AAS, vol. 29, no. 5 (1997).
Report of AAS Education Policy Board on workshops, discussions, and recommenda-tions about reforming graduate education.Available on the web at:

Webster, Z. "Reforming Graduate Education" in Mercury, Sep/Oct. 1997, p. 19.
Excellent summary of statistics and issues, with web sites to check. (Other articles in the issue focus on job hunting for recent graduates.)

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5. Teaching Astronomy for College Non-science Majors

Arons, A. A Guide to Introductory Physics Teaching. 1990, John Wiley.
A master physics teacher discusses a variety of techniques and approaches.

Bykerk-Kauffman, A. "Using Cooperative Learning in College Geology Classes" in Journal of Geological Education, vol. 43, p. 308 (1995).
Lessons from our sister discipline.

Caton, D. "A Blindman's Buff Through Astronomy" in Mercury, Nov/Dec. 1996, p. 29.
Teaching a non-linear intro astronomy course based on breaking news developments.

Connoly, L. "Walking on Water" in Mercury, Sep/Oct. 1996, p. 6.
A brief report on the first meeting for and about teaching astronomy in community and small colleges.

Deming, G., et al. Cooperative Learning Activities for Introductory Astronomy for Non-science Majors. 1997, Univ. of Maryland Astronomy Dept.
A very useful handbook for those who want to get out of lecture mode in introductory classes. (Contact Grace Deming for more information on this self-published manual.)

English, T. "Writing to Learn and Journal Applications in the Introductory Astronomy Course" in Language & Learning Across the Disciplines, vol. 2, no. 2, p. 18 (Sep. 1997)

Hoff, D. "The Participatory Lecture" in Journal of College Science Teaching, Mar. 1980, p. 217.
On ways to facilitate small group activities within a large astronomy lecture.

McKeachie, W. J. Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, Theory for College and University Teachers, 9th ed. 1994, D. C. Heath.

McNeal, A. & D'Avanzo, C., eds. Student Active Science: Models of Innovation in College Science Teaching. 1997, Saunders Coll. Publ.
Proceedings of a conference, mostly about biology teaching, but with techniques that can be adapted to any science.

Safko, J. "Structure for a Large Enrollment, Self-Paced, Mastery Oriented Astronomy Course" in American Journal of Physics, vol. 44, p. 658 (1976).

Schatz, D. & Lawson, A. "Effective Astronomy Teaching: Intellectual Development and Its Implications" in Mercury, Jul/Aug. 1976, p. 6.
Seminal article on research into student reasoning and what it says to the astronomy instructor.

Seeds, M. "Teaching the Real Message of Astronomy" in Mercury, Sep/Oct. 1996, p. 21.
Thoughts about concept-based, rather than fact-based teaching.

Statler, T. "Throw the Book at Them" in Mercury, Sep/Oct. 1997, p. 16.
Thought-provoking critique of current astronomy textbook practices, with comments from many perspectives.

Tobias, S. Revitalizing Undergraduate Science: Why Some Things Work and Most Don't. 1992, Research Corporation, Tucson, AZ.

Tucker, G. "Astronomy Education in the Two-Year Colleges" in Percy, J., ed. Astronomy Education: Current Developments, Future Coordination. 1996, Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series, Vol. 89.

Watkins, S., ed. Critical Issues in Two-Year College Physics and Astronomy -- 1990 and Beyond. 1991, American Association of Physics Teachers, 1 Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740.
Proceedings of a conference of 120 faculty and experts.

Zeilik, M. "Should Introductory Astronomy be a Comfort Course" in Mercury, Sep/Oct. 1996, p. 25.
A brief essay on the problems with traditional survey courses.

Zeilik, M., et al. "Conceptual Astronomy: A Novel Model" in American Journal of Physics, vol. 65, p. 987 (1997).

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6. K-12 Astronomy Education

Atwood, R. & V. "Preservice Elementary Teachers' Conceptions of the Causes of the Seasons" in Journal of Research in Science Teaching, vo. 33, p. 553 (1996).
Research on what student teachers believe.

Bishop, J. "Astronomy Learning and Student Thinking" in Mercury, Mar/Apr. 1996, p. 16.
An award-winning teacher discusses how research in student reasoning informs her work.

Bruning, D. "Astronomy in the Classroom: Building Astronomy's Future" in Astronomy, Sep. 1993, p. 40.
Describes a number of K-12 projects in astronomy education.

Carruthers, G. "Outreach Programs for African-American Students in Washington D.C." in Mercury, May/June 1995, p. 29.
An African-American astronomer reports on ways he has found to become involved with education in his community at many levels.

Coyle, H. "The Universe in the Student's Mind" in Mercury, May/June 1994, p. 28.
On Project STAR to improve astronomy teaching in high school through hands-on activities.

Gutierrez, P., et al. "Science in the Bilingual Classroom" in Mercury, Jul/Aug. 1996, p. 29.
One of three articles in this issue on teaching astronomy for those for whom English is not their first language.

Klein A. "Children's Concepts of Earth and Sun: A Cross-Cultural Study" in Science Education, vol. 65, no. 1, p. 95 (1982).

Larsen, K. "That Personal Touch" in Mercury, May/June 1997, p. 19.
Addresses the issue of whether local or leveraged efforts by astronomers are most effective in helping students.

Lebofsky, N. "A Skunk is in the Sky, or Is It a Plow?" in Science Scope, Mar. 1994, p. 26.
Activities from Project ARTIST for lower grades using sky mythology.

Levy, D. "Project ARTIST" in Sky & Telescope, June 1994, p. 98.
On the innovative curriculum and teacher training project at the U. of Arizona.

Lightman, A. & Sadler, P. "The Earth is Round? Who Are You Kidding?" in Science and Children, Feb. 1988, p. 24.
On studies of how children reason and learn.

Lockwood, J. "Latching on to the Whirlwind: The Changing Face of Astronomy Education" in Mercury, Mar/Apr. 1993, p. 56.
On several innovative projects.

MacRobert, A. "Astronomy with a $5 Telescope" in Sky & Telescope, Apr. 1990, p. 384.
On the Project STAR telescope kit and activities you can do with it.

Olson, S. "Raising Astronomers" in Astronomy, Dec. 1997, p. 78.
Looks at research about and projects to help the teaching of astronomy in elementary school. (An expanded version appears in Teacher magazine, Feb. 1998, p. 24.)

Richter, J. & Fraknoi, A. "Matches Made in the Heavens: Project ASTRO" in Mercury, Sep/Oct. 1994, p. 24.
Fostering partnerships between professional and amateur astronomers and 4th-9th grade teachers.

Richter, J. & Fraknoi, A. Project ASTRO How-to-Manual for Teachers and Astronomers. 1996, Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
A step-by-step guide to successful partnerships between astronomers and K-12 teachers.

Schatz, D. "Education Reform: Implications for the Teaching of Astronomy (K-12)" in Percy, J., ed. Astronomy Education: Current Developments, Future Coordination. 1996, Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series, Vol. 89.
Reviews the National Science Education Standards and what they say to those who teach astronomy.

Sneider, C. & Pulos, S. "Children's Cosmographies: Understanding the Earth's Shape and Gravity" in Science Education, vol. 67, p. 205 (1983).

Treagust, D. & Smith, C. "Secondary Students' Understanding of Gravity & the Motions of the Planets" in School Science & Mathematics, vol. 89, p. 380 (1989).

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7. A Few Selected Articles on K-12 Science Education Reform

Beardsley, T. "Teaching Real Science" in Scientific American, Oct. 1992, p. 98.

Bowers, J. "Scientists and Science Education Reform: Myths, Methods, and Madness" in Science Educators and National Standards (1994, Sigma Xi). Available on the World Wide Web at:

Lederman, L. "Blackboard Bungle" in The Sciences, Jan/Feb. 1995, p. 16.
A Nobel-prize winning physicist reflects on his reform efforts in the Chicago schools.

Raloff, J. "Minds-on Science" in Science News, vol. 149, p. 72 (Feb. 3, 1996).

Schultz, T. "Science Education Through the Eyes of a Physicist" available on the World Wide Web at:

Watson, B. & Konicek, R. "Teaching for Conceptual Change: Confronting Children's Experience" in Phi Delta Kappan, May 1990, p. 680.

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8. Astronomy Education at Planetaria & Museums

Norton, O. "Will Planetariums Become Extinct?" in Sky & Telescope, Dec. 1985, p. 534.
On the history and current state of planetaria in the U.S.

O'Meara, S. "The Worlds' Largest Solar System Scale Model" in Sky & Telescope, July 1993, p. 99. At the Lakeview Museum in Peoria, IL. (See an update in the March 1998 issue, p. 80, on a wide range of such models.)

O'Meara, S. "Clear Skies Guaranteed" in Sky & Telescope, Oct. 1996, p. 84.
Using a traveling portable planetarium for education.

Petersen, C. "There's No Place Like Dome" in Sky & Telescope, Sep. 1989, p. 255.
On astronomy education at several planetaria and science centers.

Sneider, C., et al. Planetarium Activities for Student Success. 1990-4, Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720.
Multi-volume series of booklets of activities and resources for small planetaria.

Sunal, D. "Analysis of Research on the Educational Uses of a Planetarium" in Journal of Research in Science Teaching, vol. 13, no. 4, p. 345 (1977).

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9. Astronomy Education Through the Media

Byrd, D. "Astronomy on the Air" in Mercury, Jan/Feb. 1980, p. 7.
On the StarDate radio program.

Goldman, S. "Prime Time Astronomers: The Astronomers TV Series" in Sky & Telescope, May 1991, p. 472.

Goldsmith, D. "Two Years in Hollywood: An Astronomer in Television Land" in Mercury, Mar/Apr. 1991, p. 34.
Experiences in the world of public television.

O'Meara, S. "Jack Horkheimer: "Star Hustler" in Sky & Telescope, May 1989, p. 544.
On planetarium director who does a series of short astronomy shows on public television.

Reis, R. & Fraknoi, A. "A Syndicated Newspaper Column on Astronomy" in Mercury, Jan/Feb. 1977, p. 1.

Robinson, L. "How Sky & Telescope Came to Be" in Sky & Telescope, Nov. 1991, p.472.
History of the main magazine that tied scientist, amateurs, and teachers together.

Sagan, C. The Demon Haunted World. 1995, Random House.
Provocative, heart-felt essays on the prevalence of pseudo-science and the role of the media in encouraging it.

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10. Astronomy Education With Computers

Bothun, G. "Teaching Via Electrons" in Cause/Effect, Winter 1996, p. 37.
On web-based, networked courses at the U. of Oregon. A web-version of this article is at:

Bruning, D. "Computers and Astronomy" in Astronomy, May 1994, p. 58.
A guide to astronomy software and how it can be used.

Bruning, D. "Blasting Along the Infobahn" in Astronomy, June 1995, p. 74.
On astronomy on the World Wide Web.

Bruning, D. "Students in Cyberspace" in Astronomy, Oct. 1995, p. 48.
On educational sites on the World Wide Web.

Dahlman, L. "Image Processing in Astronomy Education" in Mercury, Ma/Apr. 1994, p. 24.
On the big project at the Univ. of Arizona started by astronomers, but now being used in many areas of education.

Goldman, S. "Astronomy on the Internet" in Sky & Telescope, Aug. 1995, p. 20. (Regular updates are found in most issues.)

Marschall, L. "Virtual Professional Astronomy" in Sky & Telescope, Aug. 1995, p. 92.
On Project CLEA, which provides college-level computerized lab exercises. (See also: White, J. "Have Observatory, Will Travel" in Mercury, May/June 1996, p. 16.)

Mosley, J. "Software Roundup for 1995" in Sky & Telescope, Aug. 1995.
A review of the best software packages for general astronomy. (Mosley reviews new software in most issues of Sky & Telescope magazine.)

Pompea, S. & Blurton, C. "A Walk Through the Astronomy Village" in Mercury, Jan/Feb. 1995, p. 32.
A multimedia package from NASA.

Sneider, D. & Berndt, H. "A Galaxy of Astronomy & Space Software" in Technology & Learning, May/June 1994, p. 20.
Reviews of software packages from K-12 teaching perspective.

Wallin, J. "Astronomy Education on the Web" in Sky & Telescope, Nov. 1997, p. 68. (See also the response by S. Goldman on p. 71.)

Zombeck, M. "From Spreadsheets to Scratch Pads" in Sky & Telescope, Oct. 1997, p. 60.
Software to simplify doing mathematical modeling in astronomy.

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11. Teaching Resources for Astronomy

Ball, N., et al., eds. Project SPICA: A Teacher Resource to Enhance Astronomy Education. 1994, Kendall-Hunt.
A collection of 43 astronomy activities at the 6th-12th grade level from a project at the Center for Astrophysics.

Bruning, D. "Charting a Path Through the Night Sky" in Astronomy, Oct. 1993, p. 74.
Comparative review of star atlases and guides.

Coyle, H, et al. Project STAR: The Universe in Your Hands. 1993, Kendall Hunt.
A high school astronomy supplement, full on sophisticated hands-on projects.

Fraknoi, A., ed. The Universe at Your Fingertips. 1996, Astronomical Society of the Pacific. (see section 1 above)

Fraknoi, A. The Cosmos in the Classroom. 1995, Saunders College Publishing.
Annotated lists of books, articles, audio-visual materials, and software, organized by topic, for college instructors.

Fraknoi, A. "Scientific Responses to Pseudoscience Related to Astronomy" in Mercury, Sep/Oct. 1990, p. 144.
Resources for debunking astrology, UFO's, ancient astronauts, etc. (Updated version available from the author by mail or see the web site: Astronomical Pseudo-science: A Skeptic's Resource List.)

Fraknoi, A. & Freitag, R. "Women in Astronomy: A Bibliography" in Mercury, Jan/Feb. 1992, p. 46.
Part of a special issue on women in astronomy. (For an update, see the web site: Women in Astronomy: An Introductory Bibliography.)

Gibson, B. The Astronomer's Sourcebook. 1992, Woodbine House, 5615 Fishers Lance, Rockville, MD 20852.
A guide to astronomical equipment, publications, planetaria, organizations, events, etc.

Pasachoff, J. "Textbooks and Electronic Media: Instructional Materials for Astronomy" in Percy, J., ed. Astronomy Education: Current Developments, Future Coordination. 1996, Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series, Vol. 89.
Includes a list of texts, software, and educational web sites.

SETI Institute: Life in the Universe Project. 1995 - 1996, Teacher Idea Press (800-237-6124).
A series of six curriculum and activities books, for grades 5-6 and 7-8, based on the Drake Equation and exposing students to the scientific ideas behind the search for life elsewhere.

Sneider, C., et al. Great Explorations in Math and Science (GEMS). 1986 1993, Lawrence Hall of Science, U. of California, Berkeley 94720.
This series of wonderful elementary activity books includes several astronomy titles, including Earth, Moon, and Stars and The Moons of Jupiter.

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Updated versions of this list are distributed at conferences and workshops on astronomy education. Please send suggestions for other readings to include (with reprints if possible) to:

Andrew Fraknoi
Astronomical Society of the Pacific
390 Ashton Ave., San Francisco, CA 94112
Fax: 415-337-5205
e-mail: fraknoiandrew {at}