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Books by Andrew Fraknoi

Astronomy: The Textbook

(with David Morrison and Sidney Wolff)

I am the lead author on this free, open-source, electronic textbook designed to introduce non-science majors to astronomy. It’s not just for students, though; anyone can read any or all of it for free.  As of the beginning of 2024, over 1.1 million students in the US had used the book, saving an estimated $70 million in astronomy textbook costs.  It is now the most-frequently-used astronomy textbook in the U.S.  It can be used on-line or downloaded in several formats at: http://openstax.org/details/astronomy

NOTE that a second (updated) edition is now available at: https://openstax.org/details/books/astronomy-2e

You can read an article about how this unusual free textbook project came about at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319319970_Student_Aid_A_Free_Astronomy_Textbook

Solar Science: Exploring Sunspots, Seasons, Eclipses and More

(with Dennis Schatz)

Designed for teachers, curriculum specialists, and informal educators, this book features 45 activity-based lessons related to the Sun’s activity, its motion in the sky, why we have seasons, space weather, eclipses of the Moon and Sun, and the measurement of time. The classroom-tested activities (roughly middle school or early high-school level) support the 3-dimensional learning encouraged by the Next Generation Science Standards. The learning experiences in the book put students in the position of being scientists – asking questions, exploring phenomena, drawing conclusions, having symposia to discuss and refine their ideas, etc. The book also includes a wealth of background information with each lesson, links to excellent resources for each topic, and a pair of safe glasses for observing the Sun.

Purchase at: https://www.amazon.com/Solar-Science-Exploring-Sunspots-Eclipses/dp/1941316077

When the Sun Goes Dark

(with Dennis Schatz)

In 36 full-color pages, When the Sun Goes Dark tells how Diana and Sammy, two curious children, and their grandparents re-create eclipses in their living room using a lamp, tennis and ping-pong balls, and Hula Hoops. Later, in the backyard and around the house, the family explores safe ways to view both partial and total eclipses of the Sun. The book discusses both lunar and solar eclipses and why they happen as rarely as they do.

Purchase at: https://www.amazon.com/When-Goes-Dark-Andrew-Fraknoi/dp/1681400111

The Universe at Your Fingertips 2.0

A huge collection of activities and resources for teaching astronomy, this DVD-ROM (published by the non-profit Astronomical Society of the Pacific) is arguably the most comprehensive guide for teaching basic concepts in space science ever published. It includes:

* 133 field-tested, hands-on activities, from programs and projects around the US,
* 17 topical guides to the best sources of information in print and on the web,
* 52 background articles on astronomy and education,
* 12 short videos with instructions for doing some of the most often used activities, and
* 10 recommended sequences of activities to help students learn some of the topics most often found in the K-12 curriculum.

For a full list of the contents, and information on how to purchase, go to:  https://myasp.astrosociety.org/products/DV122/theuniverseatyourfingertips20dvdrom

Science Fiction by Scientists

(features one of my short stories)

This collection of science fiction stories written by scientists features several by astronomers. My story “Supernova Rhythm,” about exploding stars and cosmic music, is included.  There is also a wonderful story by Ken Wharton, written from the perspective of an intelligent life-form that lives beneath the ice of Jupiter’s moon Europa.

You can order a copy at: https://www.amazon.com/Science-Fiction-Scientists-Anthology-Stories/dp/3319411012 or from the publisher at: http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319411019

Building Red: Mission Mars

(features one of my short stories)

This collection of short stories about human settlements on Mars in the future includes my first published science fiction story, “Cave in Arsia Mons.”  It’s published by a small independent publisher.

My story is about a real cave on the side of one of the towering volcanoes on Mars, and about a game-changing discovery that an anti-social astronaut makes there.

You can order from Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Mission-Mars-Building-Janet-Cannon/dp/1940442079

Disney’s Wonderful World of Space

This children’s book, written at the level of curious 4th through 7th graders, gives an introduction to astronomy using analogies, clear explanations, and humor. There are full-color illustrations and drawings throughout. Disney characters are featured on each page, often making puns that kids can enjoy or hiss at.

The book appeared in both hard-cover and paperbound versions; both are out of print but can often be found used at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Space-Wonderful-World-Andrew-Fraknoi/dp/078684969X (hard-cover) and https://www.amazon.com/Space-Wonderful-World-Andrew-Fraknoi/dp/142312264X

El Universo a Sus Pies

(with Dennis Schatz)

This is a Spanish translation that includes several dozen of the favorite astronomy activities from “The Universe at Your Fingertips”.   It is still available in a printed version from the non-profit Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

You can learn more about the contents and order at:


Cosmic Decoders

(Card Games Set)

Cosmic Decoders is not really a book, but a set of colorful cards which can be used to play a variety of astronomically-themed games. Created for the “Family ASTRO” project at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the games are designed for families to play for fun and to learn more about the many intriguing objects in the universe.  It includes some of the most beautiful and intriguing images from the Hubble Space Telescope.

Learn more and order at: https://myasp.astrosociety.org/product/FA104/cosmicdecoderstakehomegame.php


Books Now Out of Print:

(used copies of many of these can be found on E-bay, ABEbooks, Amazon, and other sites)

Voyages through the Universe (textbook, with David Morrison & Sidney Wolff)

The Universe (I was scientific editor for this collection of science articles and science fiction stories, published by Bantam)

The Planets (I was scientific editor for this collection of science articles and science fiction stories, published by Bantam)

Abell’s Exploration of the Universe, 7th ed. (I was coauthor on the last edition of this influential textbook)

Cosmos in the Classroom (I edited the proceedings of several conferences by this name focusing on the teaching of introductory astronomy; published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific)

Effective Astronomy Teaching and Student Reasoning Ability (I was one of the authors of this 1978 book of papers from an early workshop on how to teach astronomy)

Books by Andrew Fraknoi - Andrew Fraknoi - Astronomy Lectures - Astronomy Education Resources