The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has awarded its 2006 Education Prize to Dr. Sidney Wolff,an astronomer and former director of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona.

Wolff was the director of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) from 1987 to 2000, and she is currently a staff astronomer there. During her time as director, Wolff was responsible for the development of world-class facilities such as the WIYN 3.5-meter telescope on Kitt Peak and the SOAR 4.1-meter telescope in Chile, both with university partners. She also led a major effort to develop the scientific, technical, and management proposal for the 8-meter Gemini telescopes, serving as the first director of the Gemini project.

Wolff has been involved in education throughout her career, from textbook writing to the founding in 2002 and her subsequent editorship of the Astronomy Education Review, the first peer-reviewed journal for the emerging field of astronomy education and outreach. The journal is hosted by NOAO at:

“This is a well-deserved honor for Sidney, who has played central roles in both operating an effective national observatory open to all astronomers and in helping train the next generation of scientists,” said NOAO Director Jeremy Mould. “With her help, astronomy education has become a valued and recognized career path in our field.”

A photo of Wolff is available at:

The National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) consists of Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, AZ; Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory near La Serena, Chile; and, the NOAO Gemini Science Center, the route for U.S. astronomers to observe with the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii and the Gemini South telescope in Chile. NOAO is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA), under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.


Douglas Isbell
National Optical Astronomy Observatory
(520) 318-8214

Dr. Steve Maran
AAS Press Officer
(202) 328-2010 x116