The Kid Who Can’t Grow Up and Doesn’t Want To by Von Del Chamberlain

Earth at Night. NASA’s Earth Observatory/NOAA/DOD

“We are, after all, one example of the universe being able to comprehend itself, and without darkness what would we know about the vast cosmos we emerged from?”

OK, that is surely enough about this small town kid who attempted, but failed, to “grow up” on the edge of the Colorado Plateau. When he retired from formalized teaching, he returned to his “Center Place” among the red hills of Kanab.

Over the decades of his life so much has changed! The “Earth at Night” photograph taken from orbit tells it all. The starry sky is, as surely as can be, on the endangered list for most humans. Even in tiny communities lights begin to overwhelm our view of the cosmos and without that we cannot hope to comprehend our own deepest origins. Almost in a panic with the expectation that endangered darkness might not survive, it is somewhat comforting to know there are numerous efforts underway to save darkness so that we can see where we came from and recognize pathways leading toward what we might become. We are, after all, one example of the universe being able to comprehend itself, and without darkness what would we know about the vast cosmos we emerged from?


The kid from Kanab, Von Del Chamberlain, is pleased to be part of a group working to establish the Stellar Vista Observatory dedicated to helping members of his community and visitors look into darkness with eyes and lenses, exploring the cosmos for themselves. He has summarized his own lifelong experience with such exploration by saying, “The better I know the cosmos, the more I love the Earth.”

Von Del standing atop “Indian Dancehall” overlooking Kanab

About the Author

Von Del Chamberlain received a BA degree with major in physics from the University of Utah and a MS degree in astronomy from the University of Michigan. He taught classes for the University of Michigan, Flint Community College, Michigan State University, University of Utah and Utah Valley State College (now Utah Valley University). His profession has been primarily that of museum and planetarium administrator and educator, with considerable time spent in sky interpretation in parks and other outdoor settings. He has lectured in classrooms, on cruise ships, in planetariums and out under nature’s stars. Major employment has taken him from Flint Community College to Michigan State University, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, the Hansen Planetarium in Salt Lake City where he retired in 1996, and Utah Valley State College. He was Scholar in Residence for the Pope Southwest Desert Institute at Utah Valley State College. He is most noted for his studies in Native North American ethnoastronomy. He is the author of nearly 200 articles and papers, and five books the latest of which is a novel titled, Children of the Sky.

Learn More

Children of the Sky

When Stars Came Down to Earth: Cosmology of the Skidi Pawnee Indians of North America

Songs from the Sky: Indigenous Astronomical and Cosmological Traditions of the World

Von Del Chamberlain Cultural Astronomy Collection

Great Lakes Planetarium Association, speaker Von Del Chamberlain

Sunrise Calendar Keeps Time at Anasazi State Park

His Eyes on the Skies: Von Del Chamberlain

Downwinders Interview with Von Del Chamberlain

Stellar Vista Observatory

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