O. Richard Norton (1937 – 2009) was an astronomer, planetarium director, teacher, and author who devoted his life to sharing his love for science with the public. As a teenager in Long Beach, California he worked at Cave Optical Company, grinding telescope mirrors, and later worked at the Griffith Observatory planetarium in Los Angeles. He studied astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles where he was introduced to meteorites by his professor Frederick C. Leonard, co-founder of the Meteoritical Society.
Telescopes, astronomy, planetariums and meteorites were his lifelong passions. He worked at Morrison Planetarium in San Francisco and later was director of Fleischman Planetarium in Reno, Nevada where he taught astronomy and was involved in developing the first 180 degree fisheye motion picture projector. In 1973 he became the director of Flandrau Planetarium at the University of Arizona. There he continued work on planetarium design as a consultant to Minolta Corporation in Japan. In 1986 he and his wife Dorothy moved to Bend, Oregon where he taught astronomy at Central Oregon Community College. He continued to offer community education classes and lead trips to view solar eclipses from Mexico to Romania.
His first book The Planetarium and Atmospherium - An Indoor Universe, was published in 1969. In 1994 he published his popular book on meteorites, Rocks from Space, followed by The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Meteorites in 2002 and Field Guide to Meteors and Meteorites in 2008. As an educator he worked tirelessly to expand public understanding about the wonderful world we inhabit and to inspire students to pursue meteoritics and the exploration of space.
The O. Richard Norton Fund was established in 2017 to honor his memory and is used to provide financial assistance to enable members to attend Meteoritical Society annual meetings to present papers and posters.