Michael D. Reynolds

Michael David Reynolds FRAS ((1954-03-30)March 30, 1954 – October 15, 2019) was an American educator who served as professor of astronomy at Florida State College at Jacksonville in Jacksonville, Florida.[1] He served as the director of Chabot Space and Science Center in Alameda County, California. Reynolds was best known for his work in science education, both in lecture halls and less formal settings. He also participated in astronomy and space exploration outreach.[2]

Michael D. Reynolds

Michael David Reynolds.jpg
Reynolds, c. 1986
Born(1954-03-30)March 30, 1954
Florida, United States
DiedOctober 15, 2019(2019-10-15) (aged 65)
EducationFlorida Junior College (AA)
Thomas Edison State University (BA)
University of North Florida (MED)
University of Florida (PhD)
AwardsFellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (2004)
Florida State Teacher of the Year (1986)
Scientific career
InstitutionsFlorida State College at Jacksonville
Chabot Space and Science Center
University of North Florida
ThesisTwo-Dimensional Versus Three-Dimensional Conceptualization in Astronomy Education (1990)

Early life and educationEdit

Reynolds grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, where he studied at Duncan U. Fletcher High School. While in elementary school, Reynolds saw the first American manned suborbital launch, Freedom 7, on television.[3] This reportedly partially inspired his love of space.

He later studied at Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, New Jersey where, in 1980, he received a bachelor's degree in natural sciences. In 1982, he received a Master of Education in science from the University of North Florida. Reynolds submitted his thesis, Two–Dimensional versus Three–Dimensional Conceptualization in Astronomy, to the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida and received a Doctorate of Philosophy in science education and astronomy in 1990.


Reynolds started his career in 1981 as a teacher at Duncan U. Fletcher High School, where he taught physics and chemistry. For his work at Fletcher, he was awarded 1986 Florida Teacher of the Year.

In 1985, Reynolds was one of the leading candidates for NASA's Teacher in Space Project, a program started by President Ronald Reagan in which civilian teachers would be sent into orbit aboard a space shuttle. The following year, he travelled to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida to watch teacher Christa McAuliffe and six other crew members of mission STS-51-L be killed in what was later called the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.[4] He later left his position at Fletcher High and took up an outreach position as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education, a position created after the disaster by the Florida Department of Education and NASA.

Reynolds later worked as a planetarium director at the Museum of Science and History (MOSH).

Reynolds' astronomical research was primarily focused on Solar System objects, as well as meteoritics. He led expeditions around the world for numerous total solar eclipses, meteorite crater research, and meteorite recoveries. He worked with Meade Instruments in 2005 to develop, curate, and create Meade’s MeteoriteKit, a special set of meteorites, tektites, and impactites.

Reynolds served as president of the Antique Telescope Society. He served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (ALPO). Reynolds helped create the Astronomical League’s Outreach Award Program in 2001, and served as the national coordinator of that program until 2015, when Dr. W. Maynard Pittendreigh became the coordinator. Reynolds also served as chair or co-chair for several conferences, including the highly successful AstroCon 2004 held in Berkeley, California.[5]

He was a member of the American Astronomical Society, and a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. Reynolds served on three national non-profit boards: Astronomy Outreach Foundation, the National Sharing the Skies Foundation, and the W Foundation (for Space Exploration education). He also served on Meade 4M Community Board of Advisors.[6]

Reynolds was the Executive Director Emeritus of the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, California. He served as the Science Center’s Executive Director and CEO from 1991 to 2002, where he led the effort to design, fundraise for, and overview construction of a new, 88,000-square-foot (8,200 m2) astronomy and space-oriented science center which opened in 2000 to replace the 1915-era facility.[7] He served as an appraiser for numerous collections due to his expertise in rare and collectible astronomical and space artifacts.

Reynolds wrote several astronomy books, including Binocular Stargazing (2003), Falling Stars (2000), and Observe Eclipses (1995). He also co-authored a college-level astronomy lab text, Basic Astronomy Labs (1996) and most-recently A Laboratory Guide for Astronomy (2015) with Michael Bakich; published by Morton Publishing. He wrote and served as a corresponding editor for Astronomy (magazine). In addition to leading expeditions worldwide, Reynolds served as a much sought-after speaker, engaging audiences in things astronomical, as well as doing book signings as often requested at many of his talks.[8]


Mike Reynolds died of cardiac arrest in his home on the afternoon of October 15, 2019.[9]

Awards and honorsEdit


  1. ^ "Employee Detail". Florida State College at Jacksonville. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "JPL Small-Body Database Browser: 298877 Michaelreynolds (2004 SY26)". Solar System Dynamics (2018-12-13 last obs.). Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved September 17, 2019.
  3. ^ "Our universe is our classroom - Dr. Mike Reynolds - TEDxFSCJ". YouTube. TEDxFSCJ. November 24, 2014. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  4. ^ Minor, Tarik (January 26, 2016). "Local Challenger finalist takes no day for granted". News4Jax. Graham Media Group. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  5. ^ Outreach Club Introduction
  6. ^ 4M Alliance Archived 8 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Chabot Space & Science Center
  8. ^ Astronomy Magazine
  9. ^ Barry, Rebecca (October 16, 2019). "Influential Jacksonville science professor Mike Reynolds dies at 65". News4Jax. Graham Media Group. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  10. ^ Webber, Tom (November 9, 2012). "The Sky Guy: FSCJ dean's name lives among the stars". The Florida Times-Union. Archived from the original on August 28, 2016.
  11. ^ "MPC/MPO/MPS Archive". Minor Planet Center. International Astronomical Union. Retrieved September 17, 2019.
  12. ^ "114 Teachers to Compete for Chance to Be First Private Citizen in Space". Education Week. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  13. ^ "NASA Turns 50". Florida Memory. Florida Institute of Museum and Library Services. Archived from the original on January 13, 2011. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  14. ^ "Florida Teachers of The Year" (PDF). Florida Department of Education. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  15. ^ "Parents Also Getting Education". Orlando Sentinel. December 6, 1987. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  16. ^ "2016 Peltier Award: Dr. Mike Reynolds". Astronomical League.

External linksEdit