John Gianforte

John Gianforte

Associate State Specialist Professor, Space Science Ed
Director, UNH Observatory, Extension Associate Professor/Space Science Education/Youth & Family State Specialist
Phone: (603) 862-2829
Office: UNH Cooperative Extension, Demeritt Hall, 227, Durham, NH 03824

John is the Director of the University of New Hampshire Observatory, Astronomer, and Extension Associate Professor/Space Science Education, Youth & Family State Specialist. His main astronomical research interests include the observation and analysis of transits of exoplanets, and the characterization of exoplanetary systems. John teaches Astronomy and Physics courses for the Physics and Astronomy Department at UNH in Durham and has taught Astronomy-related courses for the USNH System since 2002.  He also writes about astronomy on his web site: and for local newspapers.  John also has “appeared” on New Hampshire Public Radio’s (NHPR) Exchange live, morning talk show with Host, Laura Knoy as well as on New Hampshire PBS Television’s (formerly NHPTV) NH OutlookNH Skies, and Windows To The Wild (, and more recently:, as well as on WMUR's NH Chronicles. John is the Co-founder of the Astronomical Society of Northern New England (ASNNE), which he helped form in 1983.  You can find John at the UNH Observatory for the twice-monthly public observing sessions held on the first and third Saturday nights each month.  You can see some of John’s work on his web site (, the UNH Observatory web site:, and the UNH Observatory Facebook page:  Over the last nine years John has been a co-chair of the New England Fall Astronomy Festival (NEFAF) Organizing Committee at the University of New Hampshire.  NEFAF is a joint venture between the UNH Physics Department and the astronomy community throughout New England (mainly through the New Hampshire Astronomical Society NHAS).  NEFAF’s prime mission is to bring the wonders of the universe into the lives of students of all ages.  John has been instrumental in bringing noted guests to Durham such as Dr. Alex Filippenko, of UC Berkeley,  Dava Sobel, Author of Longitude, Galileo’s Daughter and The Planets, and Dr. Carolyn Porco, the Science Imaging Team Leader for NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn, and Dr. Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer at SETI.

I am thrilled to be a art of both the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences and Cooperative Extension here at UNH. In my role here, I direct the activities and programs at the UNH Observatory, teach a wide range of students about the beauty and wonders of our universe and conduct outreach and education across many different platforms across the state and beyond. Who could ask for anything more than that?  If you have a question or an idea of how we can help with your group or class, please contact me. I am happy to discuss them with you.

Courses Taught

  • PHYS 405: Intro to Modern Astronomy
  • PHYS 405/406: Intro to Modern Astronomy
  • PHYS 406: Intro to Modern Astronomy
  • PHYS 440A: Hon/Our Place in the Universe
  • PHYS 705/805: Experimental Physics II


  • M.S., Swinburne Univ of Technology
  • B.S., University of New Hampshire