August 3, 2018

8:30 p.m.

Prof. Andrew Fraknoi, University of San Francisco Fromm Program

"How did Pluto Get Kicked out of the Planet Club and What Are We Discovering There Now?"

Prof. Andrew Fraknoi

In this illustrated, non-technical talk by Bay Area public astronomer, Andrew Fraknoi, you will hear the behind-the-scenes story of how Pluto got “demoted” and why its story turned out OK nevertheless.   In addition, you will find out the latest results, and see beautiful color images, from the New Horizons spacecraft that flew by the “double planet” Pluto-Charon in 2015 and gave us close-up views (and a new understanding) of both worlds.  You will also hear about Pluto’s “cousins” -- the other intriguing dwarf planets that lie beyond Neptune and open up a whole new realm in our solar system. Andrew Fraknoi is the Emeritus Chair of the Astronomy Department at Foothill College, and a senior educator for the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.  Since retiring in Summer 2017, he has been teaching astronomy courses for seniors at the Fromm Program at the University of San Francisco and the OLLI Program at SF State.  He is Vice-chair of the Lick Observatory Council, and is on the Board of Trustees of the SETI Institute. A frequent guest on Bay Area radio stations and NPR, Fraknoi is the lead author of Astronomy, a free, open-source introductory textbook, published by the nonprofit OpenStax project.  He is also the author of several books for teachers, two books for children, and two stories published in science fiction anthologies.  He has received the AAS Education Prize, the AIP Gemant Award, and the NSTA Faraday Prize for the popularization of science. The International Astronomical Union has named asteroid 4859 Asteroid Fraknoi to recognize his contributions to the public understanding of astronomy.

Program Information

7:30 p.m. Doors Open Brief Telescope Visits
8:30 p.m. Science Talk, Lecture Hall History Talk, Lecture Hall
9:30 p.m. Science Talk (repeated), Lecture Hall Telescope Viewings
10:30 p.m.     History Talk (repeated), Great Refractor     Telescope Viewings
1:00 a.m.     Doors Close


Ticket Information

General admission: $ 25.00 per person (ages 8 and older).
Tickets are non-refundable. Limit of four tickets per customer. Please be advised that unpredictable weather patterns may restrict telescope viewings, though lectures and other activities will still take place. Due to safety regulations and the nature of the event, children under age 8 are not allowed at this event, and it may be unsuitable for children under the age of 12 due to late hours.

Join Friends of Lick Observatory (FoLO) and Get Tickets Early
If you'd like to purchase tickets as early as noon on April 11th, 2018, join our Friends of Lick Observatory (FoLO) program by April 1st, 2018. As a thank you for supporting the observatory, you'll get special access to purchase tickets before they go on sale for the general public on April 18th at noon at

Driving to Lick Observatory
Please allow a one-hour drive from San Jose. The rood is good, but windy. The event typically lasts between 4 and 6 hours; prepare to drive home late in the evening. There are no automative services or gas stations for 20 miles, so please plan ahead. See more information on driving directions and parking here.

Recommended Attire
Casual, comfortable clothing and walking shoes. A sweater or light coat is recommended.

Please be careful when walking around in the dark outside; bringing a flashlight is recommended. Children under age 8 are not allowed at this event, and it may be unsuitable for children under the age of 12 due to late hours.

The large telescopes will be available for viewing as soon as the sky is dark. Telescopes will remain open until every guest has had an opportunity to see through both the 36-inch Great Refractor and the 40-inch Nickel Telescope.

In order to view through the telescopes, guests will receive a numbered pass at the door. Guests with the lowest telescope numbers are admitted to the telescopes first - so we recommend getting to the observatory early! Please note: Due to historic construction of the telescope domes, the 36-inch Refractor and the 40-inch Nickel Telescope are not wheelchair accessible at this time.

Volunteer amateur astronomers also set up ground telescopes in the back parking so guests can view additional cosmic objects.

Gift Shop
Lick Observatory souvenirs and astronomy merchandise will be available for purchase between 7:30 to 11:00 p.m. You can also visit our Gift Shop online 24/7.

Snacks and beverages will be available near the Nickel Telescope. Vending machines and fountain water are also available.

We strive to make your visit as complete and meaningful as possible. Please let us know if you will need special assistance (for example, if you will have difficulty climbing stairs), so we can make the necessary arrangements.

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