A native of the Genesee River Valleyand the Finger Lakes of New York State, Jon Bell graduated from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh with a B.S. degree in Earth Science and a Master's degree in Science Education from Columbia Universityin New York City. His work experience includes a two-year internship as Scientific Assistant at the Hayden Planetarium in New York and 14 years as the Planetarium and Observatory Director at Virginia Living Museumin Newport News. He has operated the Hallstrom Planetarium since it opened in 1993.
His duties as Associate Professor of Astronomy at IRSC include teaching astronomy, earth science, science education and planetarium operation to college students; as Planetarium Director he writes, produces and presents high quality educational astronomy programs to college classes, elementary and secondary schools, and the public. Bell received IRSC's 1995 Ambassador Award and the 1996 IRSC Instructional Innovation Award, the 2008 President’s Cup for his contributions to the establishment of IRSC’s Baccalaureate Initiative and he is a 2010 recipient of IRSC’s River Award. He is listed in the 2002, 2005 and 2007 "Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers." He was also selected by students as the October 2009 Faculty of the Month. Since 1989 Bell has been a Fellow of the International Planetarium Society (IPS.) His planetarium shows have also garnered international acclaim; "Bear Tales and Other Grizzly Stories"
took Third place in the 1998 Eugenides Foundation -IPS script writing competition, and “The Whale’s Tale” placed Second in the 2003 contest. A Past President of the South Eastern Planetarium Association (SEPA), Jon Bell was the
2004 recipient of its Paul Campbell Fellowship Award. In 2006 Bellalso obtained funding from SEPA to write,
produce and direct, “The Planets,”narrated by Star Trek: Voyager’s Kate Mulgrew and scored with an electronic and acoustic version of Gustav Holst’s“The Planets.” The program has been distributed to hundreds of planetariums throughout the United States.
Jon Bell is “the Singing Astronomer.” He has presented musical “Space Songs”programs to planetarium audiences, and has even served as the singing Master of Ceremonies for the Treasure Coast Science Fair Awards programs. His Astronomer’s Songbook (available on the Hallstrom Planetarium web page at www.irsc.edu, is the most compre-hensive collection of space and astronomy-related songs in the world, many of them written by him. Bell also created and conducts the international “Constellation Shootout,” which has been honing and improving the star-identifying skills of planetarium lecturers and operators since 1996 –the competitions have been held in major planetarium facilities such as in Pensacola, Baton Rouge, London, Wichita, Montreal, Richmond, Valencia (Spain,) Atlanta,
Wheeling, Lafayette and even Nashville!