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 www.joyinwood.com since 1979, Rich also has a passion for selfless service. He is President and Founding Director of Amazing Earthfest www.amazingearthfest.org, 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 www.stellarvistaobservatory.org, 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.
Paul Barron, Vice President
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.
Sylvia Sims, Treasurer
Sylvia completed her Masters in Business Administration from North Carolina State University. She currently enjoys managing social media for Kanab City Library and works for Best Friends Animal Society. Sylvia loves sustainability and is passionate about preserving the dark sky in Kanab by reducing light pollution through community education.
Bob Kaczowka, Architect
Josh Klina, Website design
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.
Currently employed at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, UT., Kyle holds an Associate’s Degree in Astronomy from The College of Southern Nevada, and lives in Kanab, Utah with his partner, Stephanie. His passions include astronomy, mathematics, physics, and science education. Kyle interned at the CSN Planetarium from 2017-2019 and became intern coordinator in 2020, revealing the critical importance of public access to science education.
J. C. Stimson
Art & Marie Cloutier
Eric completed his BA in Biology from Utah State University and MS in Analytics from North Carolina State University. He currently works as a data analyst and enjoys studying and building machine learning projects in his spare time. He joined SVO because he enjoys learning about the wonders in the night sky and wants others to enjoy the same excitement. He currently lives in Kanab, UT, with his wife, Sylvia.
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!
John has been interpreting the sky to family, friends, and the public since he got his first telescope in 1956. He was a passionate amateur astronomer from an early age with a backyard observatory in suburban Detroit, and earned a degree in astronomy from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1970. Upon graduation he turned from research to public astronomy and, during his 35-year professional career he worked in two public planetariums: the historic Hansen Planetarium in Salt Lake City and the world-famous Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. John was in charge of Griffith’s educational activities, and he wrote and produced over 50 planetarium shows (and presented them live), developed museum exhibits, was responsible for the operation of the telescopes, and provided astronomy information to the public and the news media. He has been interviewed over 100 times on local and national television and appeared in more than a dozen documentaries. John became an authority on the Star of Bethlehem (his first book is The Christmas Star, published in 1987).
In the 1990s John wrote four additional books on the sky: The Ultimate Guide to the Sky for children in 1997, Stargazing for Beginners also in 1997, Stargazing with Binoculars and Telescopes in 1998, and Starry Night Companion in 2000. This last book has been included with every copy of Starry Night software sold since 2000. His two stargazing books are available through Amazon.com.
John became a familiar face to Los Angeles residents and to people around the country with his frequent media appearances. John was called on regularly to explain eclipses, discoveries in astronomy, and to be an authority in documentaries, and he has appeared on CNN Headline News, Tom Snyder Show, Good Morning America, AM Los Angeles, Dan Rather Evening News, Today Show, Jim Lehrer News Hour, as well as the local evening news countless times. A separate web page highlights some of these television appearances.
John has also lead expeditions to South America and the Caribbean to watch eclipses and to see Halley’s Comet, taught astronomy at the college level and to teachers, and conducted weekend astronomy workshops for families on Palomar Mountain and elsewhere. He edited magazines and a professional journal, wrote a bi-weekly column on the sky that appeared in the Los Angeles Times for six years, and recorded a weekly Sky Report that was very popular for 26 years. He coordinated public star parties sponsored by Hansen Planetarium and Griffith Observatory for 35 years. He is presently active in the International Dark Sky Association and writes the weekly sky report for Stellar Vista Observatory which is published in several regional weeklies in Utah and Arizona, the online edition of the St. George News, and on this website.
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.