Rich Csenge, President

Raised in the New York City area, Rich attended the University of Vermont and University of California, then for two years studied home construction and residential residential wiring at community college in Maine. A professional furniture craftsman and owner of Joy in Wood Furniture Makers since 1979, Rich also has a passion for selfless service. He is President and Founding Director of Amazing Earthfest, a 501c-3 nonprofit organization since 2009, producing an annual educational, arts and outdoor adventure festival celebrating National and State Parks, Forests, Monuments and Public Lands of the American West.

For nine years between 2008 and 2017, Rich served as a trustee for Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, friends group for Utah’s largest national monument. In addition, he was the longest serving member of the Kanab City Beautification Board until stepping down in 2021.

Most recently in 2019, Rich founded the 501c-3 nonprofit Stellar Vista Observatory, based in Kanab, an organization dedicated to the creation and operation of a public educational astronomical observatory in Kane County. Rich and his wife Debra relocated to Kanab in 2007 to maintain an active outdoor lifestyle, discover and enjoy America’s public lands and contribute to the evolving culture of rural Utah.

Natalie Brannon, Vice President

Natalie and her husband Phil moved to Kanab in 2021. She holds degrees in both engineering and education. Having lived a number of years in large cities such as Seattle and Houston, she knows the dark skies in Kanab are a precious resource. From owning a telescope as a teen and exploring astronomy courses in college, to visiting observatories and attending star parties with her husband and son, Natalie’s passion for astronomy and the night sky has been life long. She believes a public educational observatory would elevate the view of area students, residents and visitors up towards the night skies, embodying the Utah slogan Life Elevated.

Sylvia Timothy-Sims, Treasurer

Sylvia completed her Masters in Business Administration from North Carolina State University. She loves sustainability and is passionate about preserving the dark sky in Kanab by reducing light pollution through community education. She currently works for Best Friends Animal Society and serves on the board of the Friends of the Kanab City Library.

Eric Sims, Secretary

Eric completed his BA in Biology from Utah State University and MS in Analytics from North Carolina State University. He joined SVO because he enjoys learning about the cosmos, and he loves leading star parties so he can guide others in experiencing the wonders of the night sky. Outside of his work with SVO, Eric works as a data scientist and enjoys coding and building machine learning projects. He currently lives in Kanab, UT, with his wife, Sylvia.

David Lane, Director

David Lane, an unabashed astro-nut, has operated two automated remote observatories and recently built a third one at his new home in Kanab, Utah. Originally a deep space astrophotographer, his work has evolved to blend deep space processing techniques with wide field Milky Way landscape images to create an art form he calls “Milky Way Fusion”.

David’s many recognitions include NASA’s Astronomy Picture Of the Day 11 times, a full feature appearance in Time Magazine, eleven appearances plus the highest rated image of 2014 by the US Department of the Interior, regular columnist and associate editor for Amateur Astronomy Magazine, 1st and 2nd place winner in the astrophotography contest of the Astronomical League, 5th place among the top ten best astrophotographers in the world, and numerous others.

Von Del Chamberlain, Director

Von Del Chamberlain holds an undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Utah and a master’s in astronomy from the University of Michigan. He has taught courses for the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Utah and Utah Valley State College (now Utah Valley University).

During the initial lunar exploration years he was director of Abrams Planetarium at Michigan State University and experienced the commencement of planetary exploration by spacecraft at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. As the Hubble Space Telescope began revealing stunning images of the grand cosmos he was director of Hansen Planetarium in Salt Lake City, a post he held until he retired in 1996.

Mr. Chamberlain was the founding member of both the Great Lakes Planetarium Association and the International Planetarium Society. In addition to developing education programs in classrooms and planetariums, he has encouraged “sky interpretation” in national parks and other outdoor visitation areas, lectured widely in outdoor settings, on cruise ships and elsewhere. He is known for his research on Native American ethno-astronomy, is the author of many papers and a book titled, “When Stars Came Down to Earth: Cosmology of the Skidi Pawnee Indians of North America.” He is trained as a scientist, has the experience of an educator and administrator, thinks of himself as an interpreter of the sky, and has the heart of a naturalist.  The more he learns about the vast universe, the more deeply he loves the Earth, this vanishingly small speck we ride upon as we explore the cosmos while each day unfolds the wonders of our lives.

Steve Medrano, Director

Steve Medrano is a retired engineering and education professional who consults in engineering management, project and program management, and technical investigations. Steve holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Secondary Education (Physical Science Composite) and a Master’s of Science Degree in Engineering (Mechanical). He has worked in Nuclear Power Plant Design, Composite Structures, Rocket Motor Design, Advanced Systems Concepts (for Ordnance systems), Space Shuttle Booster Motors, Biotech, and was the Vice President of Engineering for an Ordnance Company when he retired. Steve designed the igniters for the Trident II and has managed programs with annual budgets as large as $26M. He has consulted for a variety of companies with many different product types. He has taught at the high school and university levels, has been a guest lecturer, and is an excellent presenter and communicator.

Paul Barron, Director

Working Group

Bob Kaczowka, Architect

Mark Palmer

Josh Klina, Website design

Ron Sharpless

Ron graduated from Pasadena City College in Machine Science and worked for Boller & Chivens Co. in South Pasadena CA. as a machinist building satellite tracking cameras and control systems for telescopes up to 40 inches, including an instrument for the US Navy measuring 61 inches. Ron also worked for the California Institute of Technology’s Owens Valley Observatory on a 130ft. diameter radio telescope and the power and control wiring for two 90ft antennas. Later self- employed, Ron owned three businesses dealing with office equipment and computers, was treasurer for the High Plateau Humane Society from 2004 to 2015 and treasurer for the Modoc Fire Safe Council from 2002 to 2017.

Kyle Slaton

Kyle holds an Associate’s Degree in Astronomy from the College of Southern Nevada and is currently employed at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, UT, where he lives with with his partner, Stephanie. His passions include astronomy, mathematics, physics, and science education. Kyle interned at the CSN Planetarium from 2017-2019, became intern coordinator in 2020, and continues to be a strong supporter of public access to science education.

Megan Smith

J. C. Stimson

Art & Marie Cloutier

Advisory Committee

Paul Ricketts

Paul Ricketts is Director of the South Physics Observatory and Interpretive Specialist in Astronomy for the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Utah. Paul earned a bachelors degree in Physics and Astronomy with a minor in Astronomy at the University of Utah. He has worked in the Department of Physics since 2005 doing public outreach and research, runs the university’s observatory, and has also helped with the building of a new observatory in southern Utah. Paul has a huge interest in photography and astrophotography and helps teach classes for students interested in astronomy and/or physics as well as spreading the word about the magic of dark skies!

Colin Littlefield

Colin Littlefield is an astronomer at the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute and is a member of a speckle interferometry research group based at the NASA Ames Research Center. Previously, he worked as an observational astronomer at the University of Notre Dame. In addition to his current work in speckle interferometry, he has a longstanding research interest in cataclysmic variable stars, and he has published his research in a variety of peer-reviewed journals. A resident of southern Utah, he enjoys hiking through the area’s otherworldly landscapes during his free time.

Ben Beckstead, CPA

Jonathan Stone, CPA

Nicole Bonham Colby, Attorney

A Kanab native, Nicole migrated far North and South but was eventually drawn back home to southern Utah to practice law focusing on natural resources and trust and estates. A former newspaper and magazine editor, she transitioned to technical writing and the marriage of technology and science in the high latitudes, living and working in Alaska and Antarctica. She later led projects designing and deploying technology solutions linking continents, vessels and global operations hubs. Along the way, she pursued graduate and law studies (University of Denver, M.A.S., J.D.) and – most enjoyable of all – spent countless nights stargazing in the high latitudes with her late husband, Kent L. Colby. Nicole now tends bees, ducks, geese and chickens in her backyard farm in Kanab.