Star Talks presenter Dennis Ashton is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.He is an astronomy author, journalist, broadcaster and presenter.Currently he presents Star Talks and is a presenter for Wonderdome mobile planetarium.The list below charts some of his extensive work in Astronomy Education.
Teaching ExperienceFrom 1968 to 1993 Dennis taught at Hurlfield / Myrtle Springs School in Sheffield,becoming Head of Science.He ran an astronomy club which became a successful GCE ‘O’ level course, open to both students and adults.StardomeIn 1993, Dennis left the classroom and bought Stardome, a mobile planetarium.Between 1993 and 2005 over 184,000 people visited Stardome in schools and at science events.Regular Stardome visits included prestigious venues including:The Science Museum, LondonThe Royal Society, LondonScifest at Derby UniversityScience Festivals at Reading, Sheffield and Bourne.In 2000 and 2002, Dennis visited South Africa with the aid of the British Council.He gave shows at Unizul Science Centre in Richards Bay and Pretoria Science Centre.In 2002, Dennis donated his old Starlab planetarium to Unizul.In 2005 Dennis sold Stardome to a former student, Andy Green, who now runs the business.Star TalksIn 2006, Dennis set up Star Talks and has continued his visits to schools and science events.He also runs short courses at the two universities in Sheffield.Around 31,000 people have attended Star Talks given by Dennis.Yorkshire PlanetariumFor two years, Dennis worked part-time at the Yorkshire Planetarium at Harewood House,using the magnificent Zeiss projector to give star shows to the visitors.Sadly the planetarium had to close for financial reasons.Star CentreIn 1996, working with the Department for Science Education at Sheffield Hallam University and with the aid of a COPUS grant, Dennis set up Star Centre and became its director.Between 1996 and 2007, Star Centre ran many public observing events, including regular ‘Star Nights’ at Thornbridge and Mayfield Outdoor Education Centres.Other events included Astronomy Festivals at Hallam University, observation of a partial solar eclipseand a transit of Mercury, both in Sheffield city centre.Star Centre’s activities culminated in the city centre observation of the transit of Venus on June 8th, 2004.During the day some 5000 people observed the transit in Sheffield’s Peace Gardens,making it the largest event in the UK.MediaDennis has written a monthly astronomy column for the Sheffield Morning Telegraphand made regular conributions to the Times Educational Supplement.He has made broadcasts on BBC Radio Sheffield, Radio 4, Radio 5 live and World Service.Dennis presented the online TV show ‘Let’s Talk Astronomy’ with Rother Valley Optics.Perhaps Dennis’s main claim to fame is a guest appearance in the Teletubbies!BooksDennis has produced several publications, including Stars & Planets for Igloo Books.Astronomy MasterclassFor the last twenty years, Dennis has run an annual residential masterclass course at Derwentwater Youth Hostel near Keswick for students from Appleby Grammar School.In recent years he has been joined by Stardome’s Andy Green, FRAS.
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