Dark night skies, of profound importance to the planet and often inspiring lyrical responses from its human inhabitants, are at risk.

Founded in 2015 at the University of Utah, The Committee for Dark Sky Studies (CDSS) is dedicated to the discovery, development, communication, and application of knowledge across a wide range of disciplines and professional fields pertaining to the quality of night skies, growing light pollution and the varied human, animal, and environmental responses to the “disappearing dark.” 

With its expansive institutional and disciplinary scope, CDSS examines both the science and culture of the night skies.

Member Institutions

Affiliate Institutions


Steering Group Members

* Founding Member

University of Utah

Keith Bartholomew
Chair, City & Metropolitan Planning

Tariq Banuri
Professor, Department of Economics
Lecturer, City & Metropolitan Planning

Kelly Bricker
Chair, Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism

Jess Dwyer
Academic Program Manager, Center for Science & Math Education (College of Science)

Cynthia Furse
Associate Vice-President for Research
Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering

Stephen Goldsmith*
Director, Capstone Programs (Undergraduate Studies)
Associate Professor, City & Metropolitan Planning

Bill Johnson
Professor, Department of Geology & Geophysics

David Kieda*
Dean, Graduate School
Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy

John Lin
Associate Professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences

Gabriel Lozada
Associate Professor, Department of Economics

Kevin Perry
Chair, Department of Atmospheric Sciences

Glenn Prestwich
Professor, Medicinal Chemistry

Dave Strayer
Professor, Department of Psychology

State of Utah

Patrick Barickman
Manager, Technical Analysis (Utah Division of Environmental Quality)

Justina Parson-Bernstein
Heritage & Interpretation Manager, Utah State Parks

Brigham Young University

Mike Joner
Associate Research Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy

J. Ward Moody
Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy 

Denise Stephens
Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Utah State University

Maura Hagan
Dean, College of Science

Jan Sojka
Chair, Department of Physics

Tonya Triplett
Principal Lecturer, Department of Physics

Weber State University

Laine Berghout
Chair, Department of Chemistry

Jeremy Bryson*
Assistant Professor, Department of Geography

John Cavitt
Professor, Department of Zoology

Rick Ford
Chair, Department of Geosciences

Adam Johnston
Professor, Department of Physics

David Matty
Dean, College of Science

Stacy Palen*
Professor, Department of Physics

Tracy Aviary

Tim Brown
Executive Director

Southern Utah University

Kelly Goonan
Director, Outdoor Recreation in Parks & Tourism

Cameron Pace
Professor, Department of Physics (College of Science & Engineering)

Utah Valley University

Karl Haisch
Professor, Department of Physics

Joe Jensen
Associate Professor, Department of Physics

Kim Nielsen
Assistant Professor, Department of Physics

Salt Lake Community College

Steve Crossland
Chair, Environmental Science & Sustainability

Adam Dastrup
Associate Professor, Environmental Science & Sustainability

Natural History Museum

Sarah George
Executive Director

Becky Menlove
Associate Director

International Dark-Sky Association

John Barentine*
IDA (Tuscon, AZ)

Richard Menzies
Ogden Valley chapter member

Janet Muir*
Ogden Valley chapter member

Affiliate Institution Members

Colorado Mesa University

Tim Casey
Director, Center for Natural Resources

Northern Arizona University

Nadine Barlow
Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Mark Rea
Director, Lighting Research Center

University of Wyoming

Carlos Martinez del Rio
Director, Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center


Micah Austin
Director, Planning & Building (City of Ketchum, ID)

Douglas Larsen
Director, Economic Development Partnership (Weber County)

David Williams
Associate Managing Director, Utah Office of Tourism

Tony Dansie
Director, Community Development (Springdale Town, UT)

Randy Stanley
Night Skies Coordinator, National Park Service (Intermountain Region)

Jay Kinghorn
Director, Digital Strategy (Utah Office of Tourism)

Sara Toliver
President/CEO, Ogden/Weber Convention & Visitor Bureau

The Work

CDSS works in a number of subject areas with concerted effort to leverage its members’ broad perspectives and varied backgrounds.

Priorities include:

  • atmospheric aspects of dark skies;
  • social equity issues of night sky deficits in disadvantaged populations;
  • citizen science and student intern astronomy and dark sky training; expansion of environmental humanities;
  • dark sky curriculum additions to STEM education;
  • impact of light pollution on human health;
  • planning and policy questions about exterior lighting ordinances and enforcement;
  • impact of light pollution on wildlife and ecosystems;
  • effective lighting and safety issues;
  • retaining community character and building sustainable “Amenity West” communities.

An early example of CDSS’s collaborative work in tourism and outdoor recreation is found in the development of the Great Western Starry Way, a north-south stargazing route from Glacier to Grand Canyon, with guidance to the many scenic places offering the best protected night skies of the Rocky Mountain States and Colorado Plateau, which are, in fact, some of the best dark skies of the world.  Early prototype below.