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Asteroid 25232 Named for Astronomer and Science Educator Dennis Schatz

The International Astronomical Union named Asteroid 25232 Asteroid Schatz to honor former ASP President Dennis Schatz, Senior Advisor at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, for his distinguished career in and dedication to science education.

The asteroid was discovered by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search (LONEOS) in 1998.  Astronomer Larry Wasserman, a planetary scientist at Lowell, suggested the designation to the IAU.

Asteroid Schatz is located in the main belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter, and orbits about 269 million miles from the Sun (for contrast, the Earth is only 93 million miles from our star.)

Schatz is perhaps best known in the area of astronomy education for creating a host of inquiry-based, hands-on astronomy activities which are in use in many thousands of schools, science museums, and other educational settings around the world.  Among these are: “The ‘Make-Your-Own Comet’ Recipe,” “Create an Alien,” “The Reasons for the Seasons Symposium,” and “Making a Pocket Sun-clock.”

Schatz spent the majority of his career in science education at Pacific Science Center, where he has been Director of the Planetarium, Vice President for Exhibits, Vice President for Science Education, and, more recently, Senior Vice President.  He spent four years in Washington D.C. as Program Officer in the Science Education Division of the National Science Foundation.

Schatz is also a prolific author, having written some two-dozen science books for children, which have together sold 2 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 23 languages.  He has also written and edited a number of books for science teachers.  His latest books are Solar Science: Exploring Sunspots, Seasons, Eclipses and More, a book of activities and information for educators, and When the Sun Goes Dark, a book on eclipses for kids.  He is also the founding editor of a new journal, Connected Science Learning, which publishes research results and review papers in the field of informal science education.

Schatz serves on the Board of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) and was President of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP). He is the co-founder of a statewide science education improvement project called Washington State LASER and of a national project to connect scientists with science museums called “Portal to the Public.”

With a career spanning 45 years in science education, Schatz has won numerous awards.  In 2006, the Association of Science and Technology Centers made him a Fellow, one of only 24 ASTC Fellows recognized in the history of the organization and one of the first non-CEOs to receive such recognition. In March, 2005 he received NSTA’s Distinguished Services to Science Education Award, given for a lifetime of contributions.  He also won the ASP’s Klumpke-Roberts Award, given for achievement in the communication of astronomy to the public.