Tucson and Southern Arizona are a haven for stargazing and learning about outer space, which can start at a very young age.

Larry Lebofsky has been an astronomer for more than 50 years. Hes won awards and recognition along the way. But he says the science is only part of what hes passionate about.

Lebofsky has been living in Southern Arizona for four decades, studying outer space, specializing in small bodies like comets and asteroids. He and his wife Nancy even have asteroids named after them.

Lebofskys rock-solid career includes stops at Caltech and MIT, before the University of Arizona.

Yet, he sees the same issue at nearly every level of education.

Heres a book. Learn about the book. Do this formula. Etcetera, he explained. As opposed to what my passion is, which is hands-on [learning].

Lebofsky teaches kids as young as five years old. He and Nancy have spent the last 30-plus years educating everyone from kindergarteners to girl scouts, to college professors.

We just brought in a number of teachers and worked with them as to, What can we do to bring hands-on experiences to them and their students? Lebofsky explained.

Paula Nasiatka, a Pima College faculty member whos taught science at multiple levels, tells KGUN shes worked with Lebofsky for 10 years, and that hes led the way in making the science easier to understand across all age levels.

Lebofsky is part of the Planetary Science Institute, which is based in Tucson.

This month, Lebofsky earned a rare honor: becoming an American Astronomical Society fellow.

But hes as modest as he is dedicated.

What we do, its a team, he said. So I have my team that I work with when I go to the telescope. We each have our own skills. And when I go to the classroom or do education, its usually as a team.

Lebofsky is also a member of the Vatican Observatory Foundation.

Next month, he will be with the Foundation at the Tucson Festival of Books, once again educating Southern Arizona about whats beyond our atmosphere.