Pittsburgh Section of the International Dark-Sky Association

The mission of Pittsburgh's IDA section is to protect dark night skies bright with stars for the enjoyment of all.

Milky Way.jpg

Next IDAPgh Meeting:

Saturday, April 27, 2019, 6:00 pm at Wagman Observatory3ap.org, 225 Kurn Rd, Tarentum, PA 15084

(Rain or shine, free parking. An Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh star party follows, if clear.)

We will be using drones to record light pollution before, during, and after installation of 40,000 new LED streetlights to measure their dark-sky effect. Cities around the world have already installed LED streetlights because of their great energy and maintenance savings, yet many citizens have not been happy with the results. Issues of light coloration and lumen intensity have raised health and circadian rhythm concerns, as well as safety issues due to increased light levels and glare. Research on the effects of low levels of light on the nighttime ecosystem are turning up negative impacts on plants and animals. Our research is intended to assist the City with real-time information about how the new fixtures are performing and how they might be controlled for to achieve best-practices for both nighttime visibility and dark-sky concerns.

Volunteers are welcome to join at any point in the research project-- all skills needed.

In order to make a procedure that can be followed by other cities, we are using a fleet of off-the-shelf drones (Mavic 2 Pro) and a free iPhone app to control the drone flight path and photography. The final nighttime map of the city (all 55 square miles) will be uploaded to the public site Burgh's Eye View. We are coordinating volunteers through IDAPgh.org, the Pittsburgh section of the International Dark-sky Association.

Drone pilot and watcher training is scheduled for Sunday, April 28, 12-6 pm in Margaret Morrison Hall at CMU, room 103. Drone watcher training will only take the first two hours of that time. Mike Lincoln is running this FAA-required training. The rest of the afternoon is for teaching for people to pass the FAA drone pilot test. If interested, write me for some pre-meeting reading material that may help. (dianeturnshek@gmail.com)

The project team meets every Wednesday 6:30 - 8:00 pm in Wean 7423, CMU. The group that has been meeting is mostly grad students and roboticists who will be reducing the data. But anyone with an interest in the drone light pollution project is welcome to join us.

Steve Quick (School of Architecture), co-I on the Metro21 grant, will be speaking about the drone project at the Carnegie Science Center at 7:30 pm on May 10 at the free, open, public AAAP meeting. 

To stay informed of this and other astronomy activities in Pittsburgh, sign up for monthly newsletters at PghConstellation.com. 

--Test sites of the new bulbs on Margaret Morrison Drive at CMU starting in May.

--Test drone flights as weather and moon permit throughout May and June.

IDAPgh June Meeting:

Dark Skies Conference: 10 - 4 pm on Saturday, June 1 in the Simmons Auditorium A and B in the new Tepper Quad on Forbes Ave at CMU

This one-day, free conference on light pollution will feature expert speakers from the civic sector and scientific researchers in astronomy, lighting design, biology and medicine, a documentary screening and a release party for the 200-page anthology Triangulation: Dark Skies (60 copies to be given away).

(These events are free and open to the public.)

Light Smart poster.jpeg

Next three IDAPgh.org meetings scheduled! 

  • 2:00 pm on Saturday, March 9 at Community Forge in Wilkinsburg. (17" telescope!) 1256 Franklin Ave, Wilkinsburg, PA 15221, parking lot located on the east side of the building. -

  • 6:00 pm on Saturday, April 27 at Wagman Observatory, 3ap.org

  • 10 - 4 pm on Saturday June 1 in the Simmons Auditorium in the new Tepper Quad at CMU, one day conference on light pollution(All these are free and open to the public.)

Triangulation: Dark Skies update: We need more light pollution stories! 4 cents a word to 5000-word maximum, Deadline for submission Feb 28, but we are seriously short on science fiction, fantasy and horror stories about light pollution. We have seen plenty featuring dark skies as interpreted as “outer space.” This 200-page anthology will be ready for the June 1st conference at CMU. Bring it down to Earth!

Triangulation Guidelines

Interview with the editor

The January meeting of the International Dark-sky Association was held at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019 at Allegheny Observatory in Riverview Park.

Free meeting, open to the public, no dues, no membership in the International Dark-sky Association required (but maybe consider it?). Free parking. Updates on the drone project and the Triangulation anthology. We talked about the City of Pittsburgh lighting ordinances, astronaut ISS photos of Pittsburgh, LLC paperwork and the new star party season of the AAAP. We can see the Allegheny Observatory All-sky Camera in action. The new IDA calendar is out including Michael Lincoln’s astrophotography of Pittsburgh as February 2019!

(Notice of upcoming IDAPgh.org meetings will be announced in the monthly PghConstellation.com newsletter. Sign up on the website.)

The December meeting of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the International Dark-sky Association (IDA) was held at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, December 12, 2018, Danforth Conference Room in the Cohon University Center at Carnegie Mellon University (5000 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213).

No dues, no registration, open to the public. Please join us for a review of the IDA and Artificial Light at Night meetings in Salt Lake City in November and updates on all our projects.

Park for free after 5 pm in the East Campus Garage on Forbes Ave. Take a ticket at the entrance, then put it back in afterwards, when you leave.

The October meeting of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association was held at 6:30 pm on Monday, October 22, 2018, Connan Room in the Cohon University Center at Carnegie Mellon University.

The City of Pittsburgh plans to begin changing streetlights to LEDs in 2019. In the works? A new Metro21 grant at CMU to make a light pollution map of Pittsburgh, before, during and after the installation using UAVs.

We’ll also continue discussion of our various projects:

  • education and public outreach

  • local astrophotography

  • new IDAPgh website

  • comparisons of the sky in Pittsburgh from long ago until now

  • creation of attractive content for our social media (Facebook)

  • membership coordination

  • City Council meeting attendance (Schedule)

  • radio interviews of members

  • children’s light pollution book

  • analysis of eight years of Allegheny Observatory All-Sky camera data (to put a number to the increase of light pollution in the city)

  • taking nighttime data of Pittsburgh uplights with a weather balloon (possibly with Pitt Shadow Bandits)

  • ISS astronaut photos of Pittsburgh at night

  • using phone apps to measure skyglow all over the city (Dark Sky Meter for iPhone users, Loss of Night for Android users)

  • asking an astronaut to visit Pittsburgh and speak about what the night side of Earth looks like from above (Request Guidelines)




IDAPgh.org Newsletter

Click here to sign up for our newsletter to be kept informed of news and events relating to the IDA Pittsburgh Chapter.


The International Dark-Sky Association

The Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh


Carnegie Science Center

Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pittsburgh

Department of Physics, Carnegie Mellon University

Parsec, Inc. (Pittsburgh’s premier speculative fiction literary organization)


Triangulation: Dark Skies

Past issues of Triangulation

Past issues of Triangulation


Triangulation: Dark Skies

Announcing a new call for stories for a themed anthology of science fiction, fantasy and horror stories celebrating dark skies. Triangulation is Parsec Ink’s themed speculative fiction anthology, now in its 15th year. Everyone is eligible to send in a story. We’re looking for work from new as well as established authors.

Triangulation: Dark Skies will be a celebration of the dark. Light pollution is a danger to human health, to animals and plants in the nighttime ecosystem and to the future of astronomical research on our planet. It wastes billions of dollars a year. Glare from unshielded lights causes safety hazards for drivers and pedestrians. We don’t yet know the full effect of making the night in cities 100 times brighter, but it deserves our focused attention. Want to know more? Start at the comprehensive website of the International Dark-sky Association.

Storifying an issue is a proven way to engage an audience. The hope is that readers will identify with proactive characters making decisions, experiencing firsthand the dangerous trend to light up the night and suffering the consequences. This issue will be given to attendees at a Dark Sky Conference in June of 2019 at Carnegie Mellon University, then widely available for purchase.

This anthology not the place for stories about the creeping horrors in the dark, which we are losing at the speed of light, but rather a exploration of the theme — celebrating our place in the universe and the ability to see into the depths of space.

Each story must contain speculative elements. While we’d love to hear about what the sky was like when you were a kid, accepted stories will weave a sense of wonder into an engaging human (or monster, alien, whatever) tale. Imaginative incorporation of the theme is a necessity. Past, present, future accounts. Cautionary tales. Secondary worlds and altered timelines. The effects of light pollution are many and varied – feel free to explore any aspects, from neurobiological studies to life in an alien star system to legends out of time.

Word count: under 5000 words (with a preference for stories around 3000 words). No minimum word count.

Payment: 4 cents a word on acceptance. Authors will receive an ebook and be mailed one printed copy of the anthology, with the option to buy further issues at one half the cover price (plus shipping). We purchase First North American serial rights and electronic rights for the downloadable version. All subsidiary rights are released upon publication, which is expected to be June 2019.

The submission window is December 1, 2018 to February 28, 2019. No reprints, fanfic, multiple or simultaneous submissions.

We use Submittable for electronic submissions. Register for a free account. Put your story in standard manuscript format and upload it in .doc, .docx or .rtf format here: http://parsecink.com/submission-guidelines/

Our editorial process? Stories are read as they arrive. The responses will be:

1.) A rejection with an invitation to submit another story before the deadline.

2.) A request to hold the story longer for further consideration. Congrats on making the first cut.

3.) A request for rewrite, with specifics outlined and a deadline for resubmission.

4.) An acceptance.

We hope to have all responses sent by March 31. Annually, Triangulation has been receiving about 900 story submissions for about 20 spots.

The purpose of the anthology series is to give Pittsburgh writers a chance to see what it’s like to sit on the other side of the desk. Editors change every year or two. Each editor picks the theme for their anthology. We’ll be looking for new editors in 2020.

Triangulation: Dark Skies Team

Diane Turnshek: Editor

Lara Elena Donnelly: Submissions editor

Douglas Gywnlyn: Consultant

Slush readers: Alphans

Contact: dianeturnshek@gmail.com