Boulder’s “Bad Astronomer” Wins David N. Schramm Science Journalism Award

January 28, 2016 – Dr. Phil Plait, widely known as “The Bad Astronomer,” has been awarded the 2016 David N. Schramm award from the High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). The winning article is entitled “A Supermassive Black Hole’s Fiery and Furious Wind” and appeared on on February 25, 2015.

Dr. Plait is the author of numerous articles and the books “Death from the Skies! The Science Behind the End of the World” and “Bad Astronomy.” He wrote and hosted “Crash Course Astronomy,” a web series that has over 12 million views, and is a frequent guest on science documentaries. He is also a popular public speaker and often sought after by media to address current scientific, especially astronomical, topics.

The purpose of the Schramm Award is to recognize and stimulate distinguished writing on high-energy astrophysics in order to improve the general public’s understanding and appreciation of this exciting field of research.

“I’m truly honored to receive this award. It means a lot to me personally because for many years I worked on education and public outreach for several NASA high-energy missions, writing about gamma rays, black holes, and more,” said Plait. “When I write about those topics now it’s a direct extension of all that I learned working on those missions back then.”

The award consists of a prize of $1,500 and a plaque containing a citation. The publisher of the winning work will receive a certificate honoring the publication in which the work appeared. The award is sponsored by HEAD/AAS, which pays the winning author’s personal travel expenses so that the award can be received in person at the next HEAD meeting, which will be held April 3-7, 2016, in Naples, Florida (

David Schramm was a distinguished scientist who is widely regarded as the founder of the field of particle astrophysics, a discipline where cosmology and particle physics meet. High-energy astrophysics incorporates experimental and theoretical studies of high-energy photons and particles from the cosmos, including the disciplines of X-ray, gamma-ray and cosmic-ray astronomy.