John is an Arizona native and comes from the “dark side” of science — professional astronomy. He grew up in Phoenix and was involved in amateur astronomy there from grade school. Later, he attended the University of Arizona, beginning research in jobs at the National Optical Astronomy Observatories and National Solar Observatory headquarters in Tucson. From 2001-06 he was on the staff of Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, serving first as an observing specialist on the Astrophysical Research Consortium 3.5-meter telescope and then as an observer for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. He obtained a master’s degree in physics at Colorado State University and a master’s and Ph.D. in astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin. John has contributed to science in fields ranging from solar physics to galaxy evolution while helping develop hardware for ground-based and aircraft-borne astronomy. Throughout his career, he has been involved in education and outreach efforts to help increase the public understanding of science.

John currently serves as the Director of Public Policy for the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to his work for IDA, John is a member of the governance committee of the University of Utah Consortium for Dark Sky Studies, the Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative steering committee, the International Union for Conservation of Nature Dark Skies Advisory Group, the American Astronomical Society Committee on Light Pollution, Radio Interference and Space Debris, and the International Astronomical Union. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. 

John is the author of two books on the history of astronomy, The Lost Constellations and Uncharted Constellations. The asteroid (14505) Barentine is named in his honor. His interests outside of astronomy and dark skies include history, art/architecture, politics, law and current events.