Dark Skies

Diane Turnshek has been working on light pollution mitigation since she returned from the Mars Desert Research Station in 2013. Below you will find articles and videos from the years of work she has put into this project.

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At Diane’s request, astronauts aboard the International Space Station took this image as they passed by overhead to register the light pollution levels in Pittsburgh, PA. They’ll continue to record images during the LED streetlight conversion.


Metro21: Smart Cities Institute. CMU Faculty Diane Turnshek Receives National and International Attention for Work Stemming from Metro21 Project.
CMU Faculty Diane Turnshek Receives National and International Attention for Work Stemming from Metro21 Project.

March 29, 2023
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Residents of fountain hills a small town near phoenix AZ fought against the night sky pollution to restore their milky way
Leaps Magazine
Scientists and dark sky advocates team up to flip the switch on light pollution.

by Anuradha Varanasi
March 23, 2023

“I was shocked at how beautiful the dark skies were in the West. That is when I realized that most parts of the world have lost access to starry skies because of light pollution,” says Turnshek, an astronomer and lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University. In 2015, she became a dark sky advocate.”
Read more

The Smithsonian Sidedoor podcast “Lights Out” with host Liz Peabody and co-producer James Morrison.

March 15, 2023

“Most people in North America can’t see the Milky Way. The reason? We’re ensconced in a luminous fog of artificial lighting 24/7.”
Listen to the podcast

German/French ZDF Plan B documentary, “Lights Out! Stars On!”
“Licht aus! Sterne an!”

Producer: Jonas Geisler
March 18, 2023

The world is getting brighter and brighter: cities shine up to 4000 times more brightly at night than the light of the moon and stars. Light pollution affects us humans, but also plants and animals.

29 min video (German) “Limited Hearing” subtitles can be set to English.
Watch Video

A global view of Earth assembled from data acquired by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite. NASA
MIT Technology Review
Bright LEDs could spell the end of dark skies.

by Shel Evergreen
Aug 17, 2022

Earlier this year, Pittsburgh was slated to begin work on a streetlight upgrade. But Turnshek says the process has been opaque. An earlier description of the project said . . .
Read more

The Squirrel Hill Magazine
“Bright Streets, Dark Sky”

by Melissa Eppihimer
March 25, 2022

(Click on image to enlarge)
Volume 20, Issue 1, Spring 2022
Pages 19 and 20.

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City Cast Pittsburgh
Meet Pittsburgh’s Dark Sky Defender, Diane Turnshek

by Francesca Dabecco
Interviewed by Morgan Moody
Thursday, March 24, 2022

“Writer, astronomer, and Carnegie Mellon University researcher Diane Turnshek has been encouraging cities to address light pollution for decades — and Pittsburgh finally caught on. Today, she talks about the new city ordinance she helped create, what it’ll take to replace 40,000 streetlights in Pittsburgh, and how much humans have in common with birds, bats, and the springtime flora we love most.”
Listen to Podcast
More information

Astronomer Diane Turnshek leads the fight for Dark Skies in Pittsburgh and beyond

by Michael Machosky
January 19, 2022

Diane Turnshek loves to gaze into the infinite beyond of the night sky. But it took an assignment to the remote wilderness of Utah for her to learn how much she was missing.
Read more

ABC Action News: Pittsburgh pledges to become a ‘dark sky city’ in 2022

by Scripps National
Posted at 3:04 PM, Jan 03, 2022

“Light pollution severely affects the natural environment pollinators, and bird migration, fireflies,” said Diane Turnshek, a special lecturer in the Carnegie Mellon University physics department.
Read more

6-minute Canadian Radio One “As It Happens” broadcast

With Carol Off and Chris Howden
January 3, 2022

The new year started with a bang in Pittsburgh. How scientists know the New Year’s Day boom over Pittsburgh was an exploding meteor.

Astronomer Diane Turnshek was in her kitchen on Saturday morning when she heard a “humongous crash” that rattled all the suncatchers on her window. 
Read more

GOODNET, the gateway to doing good.
This City is Dimming its Lights and Going Dark Sky

by Bonnie Riva Ras
January 1, 2022

The ordinance also replaces the newer LED streetlights that were installed in the 2010s. “About a decade ago, 4,297 streetlights were replaced with 5,000-kelvin LEDs,” Diane Turnshek a dark sky expert and lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University told Sky and Telescope.
Read more

Archinect News: Pittsburgh is the latest city to join the dark-sky movement

by John Niland
December 29, 2021

The city’s push is also beneficial to the reduction of traffic accidents and sense of pedestrian safety, according to Carnegie Mellon professor Diane Turnshek. 
Read more

PBS NewsHour
What too much artificial light steals from our night skies 

by Isabella Isaacs-Thomas
Dec 16, 2021

Light becomes pollution when it’s not serving a useful purpose . . .
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Bloomberg CitiLab
Why Pittsburgh Is Dimming Its Streetlights

by Josyana Joshua
December 14, 2021

(Click on image to enlarge)
Pittsburgh has budgeted $16 million for the streetlight project and estimates it will save $1 million in energy costs . . .
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Andy from Pittsburgh, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Andy from Pittsburgh, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

by Christina Griffith
December 14, 2021

On October 28, a solar storm launched a coronal mass ejection towards Earth, hurling magnetic energy and plasma into our atmosphere. A spectacular aurora, a phenomenon generally only seen near the Arctic Circle, was visible in the sky as far south as Pennsylvania.
Read more

KCRW’s 9th Annual Radio Race: NEWBIE AWARD
Boen Wang & Susan Peterson’s Think of Me When You See the Stars

Nov. 22, 2021

An astronomer fights for the right to starlight.
Read more

“We Watched the Stars”: The Wonder of Our PA Wilds Dark Skies

by Karen Elias
November 18, 2021

The PA Wilds is proud to include within its bounds a region called the Dark Skies Landscape, which offers some of the best stargazing in the eastern United States. 
Read more


by Kara Holsopple
October 27, 2021

Pittsburgh is trying to dim light pollution. The city’s Dark Sky Lighting ordinance signed by Mayor Bill Peduto in September calls for modifying lighting in newly constructed or renovated city-owned facilities, city parks, and street lights.
Read more

Sky & Telescope
Pittsburgh Goes Dark: Could this new Dark-Sky ordinance begin a trend?

by Jamie Carter 
October 12, 2021

Can you see the Milky Way from your home? Diane Turnshek can, and she wants to Pittsburgh to see it, too.
Continue reading

The first major city in the United States passes a dark-sky ordinance.

by skralyx
October 07, 2021

Could the Milky Way be visible over a city like Pittsburgh once again?
Continue reading

Washington Examiner
Pittsburgh enacts measure targeting light pollution to become ‘dark sky’ city

by Jeremy Beaman, Energy and Environment Reporter
October 04, 2021

Pittsburgh decided it wants more darkness, but the city isn’t turning out the lights — it’s just turning them down.
Continue reading

CMU News
Dark Skies Ordinance To Dim Pittsburgh’s Light Pollution

by Emily Payne
September 27, 2021

CMU Special Faculty Diane Turnshek helps Pittsburgh bring new regulation to light.
Continue reading

Drone shot of Carnegie Mellon University campus
International Dark Sky Association, September Monthly Star: Q&A with Advocate Diane Turnshek from Pittsburgh, USA

International Dark Sky Association
September 24, 2021

Each month the International Dark-Sky Association features an IDA Advocate from the worldwide network of volunteers who are working to protect the night in a feature called ‘Monthly Star.’ This month we’re highlighting the work of IDA Diane Turnshek from Pennsylvania, USA
Continue reading

90.5 WESA
Heard on Morning Edition
Pittsburgh Wants You To See Constellations When You Look Up At The Night Sky

A Martinez, host
September 16, 2021

Diane Turnshek interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Text and audio recording
Two minute listen.
Continue reading

Trib Live
Peduto introduces ‘Dark Sky’ legislation to reduce light pollution in Pittsburgh.

by Paul Guggenheimer
August 25, 2021

Some Pittsburgh residents may have been wondering why some stars in the night sky have been more difficult to see in recent years. Or why evenings seem less tranquil than they used to?
Continue reading

KDKA Live interview
Diane Turnshek – Carnegie Mellon University astronomer.

With Lynne Hayes-Freeland
August 25, 2021

Continue reading

Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Seeing the light: Peduto administration aims to reduce light pollution in proposed ordinance

by Ashley Murray
August 24, 2021

An effort to see the Milky Way is underway with a potential new city law that requires softer, subtler lighting in Pittsburgh
Continue reading

CMU News
Artificial Light Survey of Nighttime Pittsburgh

by Metro21: Smart Cities Institute
August 2021

Drones are camera enabled, with attached 500 lines per millimeter diffraction gratings over the camera. Preliminary flights identified different light sources, such as incandescent, LED, high-pressure sodium vapor, and mercury.
This site is updated as the project progresses.
Continue reading

90.5 WESA
A Light Map Could Illuminate How Street Lamps Are Part Of Pittsburgh’s Pollution Problems

by Kiley Koscinski
July 6, 2020

Streetlights emitting artificial beams through neighborhoods every night could be to blame for decreasing firefly populations and a generation of young people with no concept of what the Milky Way looks like in a starry night sky. A Carnegie Mellon University professor and self-proclaimed dark-sky defender, Diane Turnshek, is working with a small team to study the problem of night time light pollution in the Pittsburgh area.
Continue reading

The Times
The bright lights of New York mean dark times for stargazers

by Will Pavia
June 20 2020

In Padua in the autumn of 1609 Galileo Galilei tilted his new telescope to the heavens and saw craters on the moon for the first time. Bart Fried did the same thing this year in Brooklyn during a stargazing party.
Continue reading

The Verge
Dark Skies Over Pittsburgh, PA – Interview: “THERE WERE NO MORE STARS . . .”

by Aria Alamalhodaei
Jun 16, 2020

Turning down Pittsburgh’s lights might help the city see stars, but first . . .
Continue reading

Christian Science Monitor
Chasing darkness: One reporter’s journey into the night

by Eva Botkin-Kowacki Staff writer
December 21, 2018

Today, our relationship to the cosmos is largely mediated by technology, through telescopes and NASA missions. But for millennia, humans could simply look up on a clear night to marvel at the bright speckles that stretched directly over them. Professor Turnshek has spearheaded efforts to reduce light pollution in Pittsburgh. 
Continue reading

Tri-City News
Living Green: A form of pollution that can be fixed in a flash

by Melissa Chaun
Jul 8, 2018

Many of us don’t realize the effects we are having on our natural surroundings.
Read more

Metro21 Podcast: Diane Turnshek Talks Light Pollution and the Night Sky

November 14, 2018

Diane Turnshek Talks Light Pollution and the Night Sky
Listen to the podcast

Carnegie Science Center Podcast: Light Up the Sky with Stars

December 5, 2016

How far do you have to travel to see the stars clearly? Join lecturer, author, and astronomer Diane Turnshek as she discusses how light pollution not only prevents us from living under a sky bright with stars, but also negatively impacts human health and the environment.
Listen to the podcast

The Tartan
Physics professor receives grant to study light pollution with drones

by Owen Fox
Sep 30, 2018

Led by Diane Turnshek, a professor of experimental physics at CMU, and Stephen Quick, a professor in the School of Architecture, a team of about 15 researchers, students, and night sky enthusiasts are hoping to create a comprehensive map of Pittsburgh’s light emissions using drones.
Continue reading

The Tartan
Pittsburgh group fights for dark skies

by Emma Flickinger
Oct 28, 2018

Roughly half of the stars visible in the 1990s can no longer be seen in Pittsburgh’s night sky. The stars aren’t going anywhere — so why can’t we see the Milky Way?
Continue reading

CMU News
Diane Turnshek to Present at TEDx Pittsburgh

by Jocelyn Duffy
May 23, 2015

Physics faculty member Diane Turnshek will present a lecture at TEDxPittsburgh on the impact of light pollution. The event begins at noon on Saturday, May 23 [2015] at the Byham Theater in downtown Pittsburgh.
Continue reading

University of Pittsburgh, Department of Physics & Astronomy: Diane Turnshek receives the Dark Sky Defender Award

November 2015

Diane Turnshek, part-time lecturer in our department and special lecturer in the Department of Physics, received a Dark Sky Defender Award from the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). The award is given in appreciation of the recipients’ efforts to further the IDA’s mission to preserve the night skies by promoting quality outdoor nighttime lighting. READ MORE

Earth Hour
‘De-Lightful’ Event Kicks Off Astronomical Year, by Bruce Gerson

March 20, 2015

Diane Turnshek, a special faculty member in the Physics Department who has taught astronomy during the summers at CMU, Pitt and other local universities, is spearheading the effort at CMU. She said Earth Hour is a time to get people’s attention and to make them aware that there are many different things we can do to be good stewards of the planet.
More than 60 buildings in downtown Pittsburgh are expected to go dark for Earth Hour, 8:30 – 9:30 p.m., Saturday, March 28, 2015


In Real Life: Dark Skies, by Christian Bryant

October 18, 2021

Newsy’s Christian Bryant explores our relationship with light — from its impacts on wellness here on Earth to its shrouding of the stars above.

Television rebroadcasts in 2021 and 2022.


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10th Annual PA Firefly Festival
by Lampyridae Productions
July 31, 2022

A compilation of video and photos of this year’s celebration of fireflies in Kellettville, Forest County, PA, which took place on June 24 and 25. Remember, “Lights Out for Lightning Bugs!”

Under One Sky Engagement Workshops 2022
Session #3: Policy Panel
Nov 12, 2022

An engaging and interactive conversation about how policy can be an instrument for change to reduce light pollution and promote awareness of the value of dark skies in your community. The panel will be hosted by Yana Yakushina, a lawyer and researcher for the legal protection of dark skies. We’ll learn from Amy Oliver, an expert in leveraging proclamations and media for dark sky conservation, Diane Turnshek, who has experience with urban night sky reclamation through ordinances, measurement, and retrofits, and Anna Pasková from the Czech Republic, about the EU wide initiative to regulate light pollution and promote dark sky conservation.

International Dark Sky Association Pittsburgh Section meeting live streamed to Facebook:
Tuesday, April 26, 2022

WeConservePA Workshop
“The Journey Back to the Stars: Limiting the Harmful Effects of Light Pollution”
Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Sierra Club of New Jersey: The Stars Are Always Above You

April 13, 2022 (posted on YouTube April 14)

For over a century, we have been lighting the night indiscriminately to advertise, celebrate and signify progress. But now, researchers are finding what should have been obvious, our planet’s dark hours are important for animals and plants, and even human health.

INTERSECT@CMU Conference: Cities and Infrastructure.

February 10-11, 2022
Click the video image to watch on Vimeo
Or watch on the CMU conference page

During the panel, we explore how we should be thinking and planning for sustainable societies in the future.

Scripps National News (ABC, NBC, Fox News, independent stations)
Dark Sky Compliant Cities
Dec. 31, 2021
The Frick In Conversation: The Art and History of the Night Sky
Panelists: Dr. Joel Tarr, Dr. Elisabeth Roark, Diane Turnshek at 52:10
Program Date: April 8, 2021
Chinese Global Television Network, CGTN America
Cities tackle light pollution for brighter skies.
December 25, 2021
Under One Sky 2021
Opening with IDA Executive Director Ruskin Hartley
Nov 17, 2021
International Dark-Sky Association Monthly Star
Monthly IDA Advocate from the worldwide network of volunteers who are working to protect the night. This month we’re highlighting the work of IDA Diane Turnshek from Pennsylvania, USA.
Sep 24, 2021
3650 Podcasts Later Pt. 6
Interview with Diane Turnshek on Dark Skies, by Dr. Pamela Gay
April 27, 2019
Dark Sky Ordinance Press Conference Pgh, PA.
Diane Turnshek speaks about the impact of light pollution on the public (3:50 – 6:55).
ASL interpreter.
August 24, 2021
De-Light the Night (Light Pollution Solutions) with Diane Turnshek
Parsec program meeting
An Alternate History of Dark Skies with Diane Turnshek.
August 2021
Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh & Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh.
Dark Skies: an Endangered Natural Resource Read the abstract
Pittsburgh Pat Podcast
Diane Turnshek Astronomer, Writer, Environmentalist. Part 1 of 2.
Pittsburgh Pat Podcast
Diane Turnshek Astronomer, Writer, Environmentalist. Part 2 of 2

TEDxCMU Innovation EXPO Interview with Pittsburgh’s International Dark-sky Association October 25, 2020

Triangulation: Dark Skies anthology contains 21 fantasy, science fiction and horror stories from around the world, exploring the ways that stars affect our lives.

Editors: Diane Turnshek and Chloe Nightingale
Managing editor: Douglas Gwilym

Read more about Dark Skies on the Parsec Ink website

Purchase the anthology

When I grew up in New England, you could just walk outside and look up and see the Milky Way. But when I arrived in Pittsburgh, the sky had started to decline in quality.”

Diane Turnshek

Visit the International Dark Sky Association

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