Michael Bennett to Receive ASP’s Andrew Fraknoi Supporters Award
The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), one of the oldest and most respected science education organizations in the U.S., has announced that Michael Bennett is the 2016 recipient of its Andrew Fraknoi Supporters Award.
The Fraknoi Award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the ASP and its mission.
Michael Bennett began his career in astronomy education at the age of 16 when he got a job as an usher at the Morrison Planetarium in San San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. He worked in the planetarium field for many years, acquiring a master’s degree in science education along the way. After a detour into high-tech marketing, he continued to teach at various community colleges. Bennett currently serves as the volunteer Director of the ASP’s Advisory Board.
Michael Bennett joined the ASP in 1995 as head of the society’s newly-formed education department and served as ASP’s Executive Director from 2000 to 2007. Under his leadership, the ASP’s education and public outreach initiatives greatly expanded and new initiatives were added. Bennett established a 20-year partnership between the SETI Institute and the ASP to bring the results of NASA SOFIA’s infrared studies of the sky to scientists and the public. In a partnership with NASA JPL, Bennett also helped the ASP launch the NASA Night Sky Network — an active community of amateur astronomy clubs across the nation that look to the ASP for support as they engage the public in astronomy activities. Almost 25 years later, the ASP provides over 500 member clubs in the Night Sky Network with on-line resources, tools, training, and kits.
Michael Bennett remains one of the ASP’s most avid and enthusiastic champions. He is a tireless advocate of the society, helping garner the donations and gifts allowing the ASP to support amateurs, professional researchers, science educators, and astronomy enthusiasts of every kind all over the world.