Skip to Main Content
Weather Notification  Weather Alert : JMU to close at 1:45 p.m. Read More >

John C. Wells Planetarium

You are in the main content
Cover Photo Image

By 2025 true darkness will have disappeared from our skies

Is that our legacy?

Can we light our campus and city better? 

Starry Nights
is a series of events designed to raise awareness about light pollution (learn more by clicking on the link!) and the steps we can take to end it in our community. Light pollution — the overuse and misuse of artificial light at night — wastes money, wastes energy, endangers our physical, mental, and spiritual health, takes a tremendous environmental toll, and erases the stars from our skies. Worst of all, we have bought into the idea that more light makes us safe. Smarter use of light makes us safe, saves cities/universities/homeowners money, is better for our health and our environment. We can have responsible lighting that ensures our safety and security without polluting our nights. Please join us in celebrating the night and learning how we can implement solutions right here, right now!  [MEDIA COVERAGE]

Starry Nights was co-created and is co-hosted by Dr. Paul Bogard, Assistant Professor of English at James Madison University, author of the critically-acclaimed book "The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness In An Age of Artificial Light", and Mr. Shanil Virani, Director of the John C. Wells Planetarium.

The short video, created to be played on the dome at the John C. Wells Planetarium and narrated by Dr. Paul Bogard, summarizes light pollution in the Valley, its consequences, and its ready solutions. This full dome film was created by James Madison University alumnus and acclaimed astrophotographer Daniel Stein '16.


If you would like to make a financial contribution to help support STARRY NIGHTS, please do so using this form!


All events are free and open to the public!

Friday, April 21   

The End of Night & Star Party at Shenanandoah National Park The brightening of the night sky is not just limited to urban environments as the glow from cities now intrudes and disturbs the environments protected by our national parks. Join us as acclaimed author Paul Bogard shares stories and experiences from his book The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light. After Paul's presentation join us outside for a public star party at Big Meadow (weather permitting)! Please note that while this event is free and open to the public, Shenandoah National Park entrance fees still apply. Byrd Visitor Center, Shenandoah National Park 
7:30 -- 11:00 pm.

Saturday, April 22                                  

Night Walk in Hillandale Park Led by Chip Brown and other naturalists from the Headwaters Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists, come enjoy a walk in a city park to explore nature at night. Families welcome, children must be accompanied by an adult. Activities include: animal adaptation to night, effects of light pollution on night time critters, solutions to light pollution, star gazing, and more! Hillandale Park, Harrisonburg 
8:00 -- 10:00 pm.

Short Film Contest

In 2014, for our very first Starry Nights, we held a community-wide short film competition to highlight light pollution in our community. The short video below was last year's first place winner! Second and third place submissions just below the first place video.


This is our 4th Starry Nights!

See what we did the last three years:

Starry Nights 2016

Starry Nights 2015

Starry Nights 2014

Starry Nights in the Media!

"Bringing Back Our Starry Nights", WMRA Radio Interview with Dr. Paul Bogard, Monday March 23, 2015

"JMU's Search for Stars Returns", Daily News-Record, Monday, March 23, 2015

"At JMU, starry nights with fewer lights",The Breeze, JMU, Monday, March 23, 2015

"The Lost Dark of Night", episode of Our Island Universe, Friday, March 13, 2015

"Starry Nights on the Earth Day Horizon", News Leader, Sunday, March 7, 2015


"Campus event highlights safety and lighting misconceptions", The Breeze, JMU, Monday, March 31, 2014

"Star Bright: Planetarium Show Highlights What We’re Missing As Creatures Of The Light", Daily News-Record, Monday, March 31, 2014

"Eyes On The Sky: Advocate Speaks At JMU About Dimming Light Pollution", Daily News-Record, Saturday, March 29, 2014

"1-on-1: Raising Awareness on Light Pollution ", WHSV TV-3, Harrisonburg, March 24, 2014

"JMU Planetarium Hosts ‘Starry Nights Harrisonburg’", WVIR NBC 29, Charlottesville, March 24, 2014

"Truth About Light Polluition", Harrisonburg Life, April, 2014

"Light pollution is a growing problem in big and small cities", The Breeze, JMU, Monday, March 24, 2014

"Reaching (and Reaching and Reaching) for the Stars", The Spark, WMRA Radio Program, Friday, March 14, 2014

"A Call to Darkness", JMU Public Affairs, Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"Reaching for Starry Nights", Virginia Insight, WMRA Radio Program, Monday, March 10, 2014

"So Long, Starry Night", page 1 | page 2, Daily News-Record, Section E, Saturday, March 8, 2014

"Dark Enough For You", Viriginia Insight, WMRA Radio Program, Monday, October 14, 2013

Please join us!