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Mark Littmann

Hill Chair of Excellence in Science, Technology, and Medical Writing, Chancellor's Professor, CCI Board of Visitors Professor
267 Communications Building

Mark Littmann is a professor of journalism and electronic media and holds the Julia G. and Alfred G. Hill Chair of Excellence in Science, Technology, and Medical Writing.  He is also a CCI Board of Visitors Professor.  In 2022 he was named a Chancellor’s Professor.

Littmann received a B.S. in chemistry and literature at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.A. in creative writing at Hollins College, and a Ph.D. in English at Northwestern University.

Littmann’s recent works include Totality: The Great American Eclipses of 2017 and 2024, a book for the general public (Fred Espenak, coauthor); Eclipse—The Sun Revealed, a planetarium star theater program in international syndication; and Eclipse 2017, a book for students ages 8-14.  He is completing for publication in 2023 Totality: The Great North American Eclipse of 2024 for the general public and Eclipsing the Sun for students ages 8-14.

When the covid pandemic struck, Littmann began developing a new educational and social activity for people of all ages: plays designed to be read aloud informally and without rehearsal by Zoom or in person.  He has written 16 “Books Acted Out” so far, some adaptations of books and stories, others his original work.

Littmann is also the author of two scientifically and historically accurate plays on famous astronomers: Little Lessons for Lina, about Caroline Herschel, the first woman to be a professional astronomer, and Halley and Newton, about how young scientist Edmond Halley made middle-aged, irascible, almost unpublished Isaac Newton the most famous scientist in the world.

Littmann’s previous books include Totality: Eclipses of the Sun (4 editions 1991 through 2009; Fred Espenak and Ken Willcox, coauthors); Planets Beyond: Discovering the Outer Solar System (1988, 1990, 2004); The Heavens on Fire: The Great Leonid Meteor Storms (1998, 1999); and Comet Halley: Once in a Lifetime (Donald K. Yeomans, coauthor, 1985).

Planets Beyond won the Science Writing Award of the American Institute of Physics.  Comet Halley won the Elliott Montroll Special Award of the New York Academy of Sciences.  Both were also chosen by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific as Astronomy Books of the Year.  The Heavens on FireTotality, and Planets Beyond were Astronomy Book Club selections.

Littmann received the College of Communication and Information Research Award in 2000 and Teaching Award in 2009.

Before joining the journalism faculty in 1991, Littmann taught astronomy at Loyola College in Baltimore, astronomy and literature at the University of Utah and Westminster College in Salt Lake City, and literature and writing at Northwestern University.

In Salt Lake City, he was the director of the Hansen Planetarium from 1965 to 1983.  He wrote and produced 35 planetarium programs, some of which are still performed worldwide.