Derrick Pitts, Hon.D

For many Philadelphians, Derrick Pitts is The Franklin Institute. Since 1978, Derrick has been teaching us to look up—and to wonder about what we see up there.

Derrick Pitts
Derrick Pitts

We all know that Derrick is an excellent “teacher.” What’s made him famous in Philadelphia is his ability to help everyone appreciate the universe as he sees it—not a watered-down sketch of the universe, but a rich, deep, complex version with human connections that everyone can understand at some level.

Derrick is currently the Chief Astronomer and Director of the Fels Planetarium at The Franklin Institute. He’s also been a NASA Solar System Ambassador since 2009 and serves as the “Astrobiology Ambassador” for the NASA/MIRS/UNCF Special Program Corporation’s Astrobiology Partnership Program. One of his newest honors is an appointment to the outreach advisory board for the world’s largest telescope, the new Thirty-Meter-Telescope at Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

He appears regularly in the media as a science content expert including appearances on the “Colbert Report” on Comedy Central and “The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson” on CBS. For more than two decades, Derrick has hosted award-winning astronomy radio programs for Philadelphia’s two public radio stations and created signature astronomy television programming for PBS. One of the highlights of Derrick’s career was meeting President Obama and his family when he was invited to participate in the first-ever White House Star Party.

Derrick has received numerous awards including an honorary Doctor of Science Degree from La Salle University, and serves on the Board of Trustees for his alma mater St. Lawrence University. His twitter handle is @CoolAstronomer and his motto is “Eat, breathe, do science. Sleep later.”