Alston Observatory Team

Outreach Coordinators

Staff at the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute coordinate outreach activities run at Alston Observatory and on campus.

Dr Victor Debattista

Victor is a Reader in Astrophysics working on the formation and dynamics of disc galaxies using supercomputer simulations. He is currently working on the Milky Way, for which the Gaia satellite is providing us with a wealth of new data. In his role as outreach coordinator Victor monitors email requests, and organises the Jeremiah Horrocks Public Lecture Series which is held three times a year. Victor offers research experience for undergraduates and college students throughout the summer months – for more information and details of how to apply see his website.

Dr Joanne Pledger

Joanne is a lecturer in Astrophysics and her research is centred around the death of massive stars as supernova explosions. She has experience in the world of outreach, working for two years at the American Museum of Natural History in New York in their after school program. As an outreach coordinator works with the Ogden Trust as an Ogden Science officer and works closely with local high schools and colleges to provide enrichment activities linked to the curriculum.

Dr Mark Norris

Mark is a lecturer in Astronomy and studies galaxy formation and evolution. His research mostly focuses on the study of objects at the interface between massive clusters of stars, such as globular clusters, and the smallest true galaxies. Mark is primarily responsible for the day to day running of the Alston observatory and in particular the 0.7m Moses Holden Telescope.

Outreach Ambassadors

Our Outreach Ambassadors are students currently working towards their PhD at the University of Central Lancashire. They dedicate some of their time running workshops or giving talks to local school and college students. All our ambassadors have undergone STEM training and are fully checked by DBS.

Daniel Lee

Daniel is a second year PhD student who works with Dr. Daniel Brown on “The 3D Topology of the Magnetic Field in the Solar Corona.” His work models magnetic fields and focuses on how certain properties interact with one another. Daniel is a registered STEMNET ambassador and has gained experience in both Astronomy and Mathematics engagement activities for a variety of ages, including the Lancashire Science Festival at UCLan.

Tom Davison

Tom is a PhD student who works with Dr. Mark Norris on “Uncovering the Formation of Galaxies using their Stellar Populations”. His project involves performing ‘galacticarchaeology’ on distant and nearby galaxies to understand how some types of galaxies formed. Tom frequently runs outreach sessions at Alston observatory for school groups, public events and for adult amateur astronomers. He has demonstrated university VR simulations at ‘New scientist live’ in London, and at the Manchester and Lancashire science festivals.

Jordan Thirwall


Tom Davison, Jordan Thirwall