Media Appearances

The remote Argentinean community that is saving the stars

Aparna Venkatesan and John Barentine
BBC Travel
Date:
Dr Aparna Venkatesan, a cosmologist and cultural astronomer at the University of San Francisco, is a leading researcher on how Indigenous voices are represented within astronomical science and in preserving space as a cultural resource. Together with light pollution researcher and astronomer Dr John Barentine, in 2023 she coined the term "noctalgia" to express the idea of "sky grief", or the feeling accompanying the loss of humanity's shared starry skies due to light pollution. Venkatesan says this loss is acute for Indigenous groups, whose millennia-old sky traditions have not been considered with humanity's rapid increase in artificial light at night.

Chunk of space debris lands in Saskatechewan farm field

Samantha Lawler
CBC News Saskatoon
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As a farmer in rural Saskatchewan, Barry Sawchuk is used to removing rocks and weeds from his fields. But he recently discovered a two-metre wide, 40-kilogram heap of twisted, burnt metal. Sawchuk said the multiple layers of charred composite fibres and webbing made him suspect it was space debris. University of Regina astronomy professor Samantha Lawler, one of those working with Sawchuk, noted large chunks of metal from space have recently been found in Australia and Washington state, and one smashed through the roof on a house in Florida.

Advocates fear wildlife, ‘dark sky’ effects when stadium lights turn on at U.S.-Mexico border

John Barentine
KJZZ-FM (Phoenix, Arizona)
Date:
Conservationists say they are concerned about stadium lights being built along the U.S.-Mexico border in places known for their dark skies, and one nonprofit says the lights could be harmful to southern Arizona wildlife. ​"The concern that we have about the lighting, is that it’s going into very remote areas, some of which are close to conservation areas along the border," said John Barentine, of Dark Sky International.​​

Amazon Is Going to Fill the Sky With Satellites. Astronomers Aren’t Happy

John Barentine
WIRED
Date:
“BlueWalker was a shock to us as to how bright it was. We are also very worried about the impact to radio astronomy,” since one of its downlink frequencies is next to a protected radio band at 42.5-43.5 gigahertz, says John Barentine, one of the study’s coauthors and a conference attendee. A Tucson, Arizona-based astronomer, he is also the executive officer of Dark Sky Consulting, which advises companies and government officials on outdoor lighting to preserve dark night skies.

Gazing Into the Past and Future at Historic Observatories

John Barentine
New York Times
Date:
John Barentine, an astronomer and consultant focused on dark skies research and conservation, believes that looking through a telescope can be transformative. “If I show somebody the moon through a telescope, they can, for the first time, envision it as a place,” he told me. “Now they’ve had a kind of direct experience with it.” But those rewards, he cautioned, are dependent on if and how we rein in light pollution on the ground.

Why the first-ever space junk fine is such a big deal

Samantha Lawler
MIT Technology Review
Date:
On Monday, October 2, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US issued its first fine for space debris, ordering the US TV provider Dish to pay $150,000 for failing to move one of its satellites into a safe orbit. “The density of satellites that are all traveling at several kilometers per second is so high,” says Samantha Lawler, an astronomer at the University of Regina in Canada. “If there is a collision in orbit, we could lose the ability to use low Earth orbit.”

SpaceX and satellite companies are stealing the night sky

Teznie Pugh
Fast Company
Date:
A casual glance into the night sky on a clear night reveals 2,500 stars, giving us a view 16,000 lightyears away and into our past. This is our greatest natural wonder: the universe. For the vast majority of human history, everyone on our planet enjoyed such a view. The stars were a grand unifier of humanity—a visualization of the Earth’s tiny spot in the vast cosmos. Our sky offered a map of our place in existence, twinkling its subliminal whisper into our collective consciousness, “You are here.”

On Some of Texas’ Tallest Peaks, Star Parties Attract Visitors From All Over the Planet

Teznie Pugh
The Alcalde
Date:
Hundreds of miles into the desert, atop the highest point on the Texas state highway system, this remote university research center is not an obvious destination. But for curious stargazers, a trip into the “Texas Alps” is a special pilgrimage. “It has been a true community effort, and the people of the area should be proud of what we have all achieved together,” McDonald superintendent Teznie Pugh told UT News after the region earned its dark sky designation in 2022.

Light pollution poses serious threat to astronomy, skywatching and more, study says

James Lowenthal
SPACE.com
Date:
Astronomers are once again ringing alarm bells about rising light pollution destroying pristine night skies. This time, though, their worries extend beyond their core discipline. "We astronomers are sort of the canary in the coal mine," James Lowenthal, a professor of astronomy at Smith College in Massachusetts, said last week at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "Practically every species that's studied is affected negatively [by light pollution]."

The Little City That Could: What we can learn from a town in northern Arizona which has reclaimed its nighttime skies

James Lowenthal
Cosmos Magazine
Date:
Flagstaff, Arizona, is different. Yes, it tells everyone it lies at an elevation of 6906 feet (2105 meters) and was founded in 1882. But then it adds an additional line: “World’s First International Dark Sky City.” That designation marks a quest Flagstaff has been on for 65 years: to remain a city where you can look up, and see the Milky Way, even as business has blossomed and the city’s population quadrupled. At a recent meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, James Lowenthal, an astronomer at Smith College, Massachusetts, noted that until recently, astronomers thought the problem was worsening at the rate of about two percent per year. But this January, a paper appeared in Science, showing that thanks to the rapidly increased use of super-bright LED lighting, the trend had accelerated by a factor of five, equivalent to doubling the sky’s brightness every eight years. “This means that in a decade, most parts of the United States could lose thousands of stars from their sky, at a rate of about one star per day, day after day after day,” Lowenthal says. But not for Flagstaff.

Way Out West Texas: Dark Skies

Teznie Pugh
KOSA-TV (Odessa, Texas)
Date:
The Greater Big Bend International Dark Sky reserve is a 15,000 square mile region that has been designated as one of the largest dark sky places in the world. It is certified by the International Dark-Sky Association and recognizes the commitment of organizations, businesses and people to protect the night sky. Teznie Pugh, Ph.D., the superintendent of the McDonald Observatory said dark skies are crucial to astronomers’ research and light pollution can impact data. “If the background is brighter than we are not getting as much signal from our data, so not only is our ability to see things lessened, how much signal we’re getting from the things we can see is also lessened. We get more noise in our data, it makes our determinations less thorough and less precise,” Pugh said.

Get outside and enjoy the darkness for International Dark Sky Week

James Lowenthal
WWLP-TV (Springfield, Massachusetts)
Date:
A couple of weeks ago James Lowenthal, a Professor of Astronomy at Smith College and President of the Massachusetts Chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association, was here to talk about the importance of understanding light pollution. Today we’re here to celebrate the darkness as this week is International Dark Sky Week.

Light pollution is affecting all life on earth

James Lowenthal
WWLP-TV (Springfield, Massachusetts)
Date:
Since the dawn of time, all life has relied on Earth’s predictable rhythm of day and night. Plants and animals depend on Earth’s daily cycle of light and dark for life-sustaining behaviors, but humans have radically disrupted this cycle by lighting up the night. James Lowenthal, Professor of Astronomy at Smith College and the President of the Massachusetts Chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association, joins us to share more on the effects of light pollution.