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Diane Turnshek - Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA, US

Diane Turnshek

Special Lecturer | Carnegie Mellon University


Diane Turnshek has spent her career studying astronomy and is one of the foremost experts on light pollution.


Diane Turnshek has spent her career studying astronomy and is one of the foremost experts on light pollution, artificial light from such sources as streetlamps, residential houses, businesses, construction sites, vehicles and billboards. This excessive artificial light, or light pollution, doesn't just stop us from admiring our galaxy, but it adversely affects human health, harms plants and animals, and wastes money and energy. Turnshek was part of a team that helped draft the City of Pittsburgh's Dark Sky Ordinance for all of the city's parks, facilities and streetlights.

Areas of Expertise (4)

Dark Sky Ordinance

Light Pollution

Artificial Light


Media Appearances (5)

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

NEXTpittsburgh  online


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.

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ABC Action News online

ABC Action News  online


"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.

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Did a Meteor Explode Over Pittsburgh?

The New York Times  online


Diane Turnshek, an astronomer who lectures at Carnegie Mellon University, felt something powerful on Saturday morning, too. She was in her home atop a Pittsburgh hill, 1,120 feet above sea level. Her initial thought was that her dryer had fallen off the washing machine in the room next door.

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What too much artificial light steals from our night skies

PBS  online


Astronomer Diane Turnshek, who’s based at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said it will be the first city to follow the IDA’s newest guidelines, but it’s not the first to address light pollution on the local level. Flagstaff, Arizona, was the first city to receive official “International Dark Sky Place” designation in 2001, but it enacted the first-ever outdoor lighting ordinance back in 1958, according to the IDA.

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Ever wondered about the best time for stargazing?

The Washington Post  online


“Part of it is that it tends to be drier in the winter,” said Diane Turnshek, an astronomer at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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Diane Turnshek Publication



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Looking Up: An Astronomy Journey Meet Diane Turnshek! Our September 2021 Monthly Star 3650 Podcasts Later Pt. 6 04/27/2019 De-Light the Night (Light Pollution Solutions) | Diane Turnshek | TEDxPittsburgh



Industry Expertise (1)


Accomplishments (1)

Dark Sky Defender Award, nternational Dark-Sky Association (professional)


Education (2)

University of Arizona: M.S., Astronomy 1981

Villanova University: B.S., Astronomy 1977

Affiliations (4)

  • International Astronomical Union
  • American Astronomical Society
  • American Physical Society
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

Event Appearances (5)

Methods and Modeling

(2023) 9th International ALAN Conference  

Foreign Policy Association’s Great Decisions Lecture and a Panel on “Cities and Infrastructure”

(2022) IntersectCMU Conference  

“Blue Sky Thinking, with Stars"

(2021) PA Conference for Young Women in Physics  

“Alteration in the Experience of Dark Nights Due to Artificial Light”

(2021) Temporal Belongings Conference: The Material Life of Times  

“In Conversation: The Art and History of the Night Sky"

(2021) The Frick  

Articles (1)

Multiple angle observations would benefit visible band remote sensing using night lights

Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

2022 The spatial and angular emission patterns of artificial and natural light emitted, scattered, and reflected from the Earth at night are far more complex than those for scattered and reflected solar radiation during daytime. In this commentary, we use examples to show that there is additional information contained in the angular distribution of emitted light. We argue that this information could be used to improve existing remote sensing retrievals based on night lights, and in some cases could make entirely new remote sensing analyses possible. This work will be challenging, so we hope this article will encourage researchers and funding agencies to pursue further study of how multi‐angle views can be analyzed or acquired.

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