Jason Kendall
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

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Big Night with Clouds
July 19, 2008

Well, last night started off as one that would stop nearly every amateur and professional astronomer. More than 75% of the sky was lightly clouded from the day's 100+ degree heatwave. The clouds and heat refused to break. For the longest time, Donna and I stood out in the baseball diamond right off Seaman and Isham Streets, looking up. While Donna rehearsed her lines for her upcoming shows of "King Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2", I scoured the skies looking for anything other than Vega and Alcor and Mizar . But to no avail. We were out long enough that the Moon rose above the buildings, and we took our spot under the streetlamps at the Park entrance. Then the fun began. With only Jupiter low in the sky and the Moon just rising, we got 45 people to stop by our little setup. I gave out posters and postcards and bookmarks to all comers. We had people looking again and again to see the Moons of Jupiter and look at the atmospheric bands . I better get a larger aperture telescope for next year, so I can see the Great Red Spot .

Anyway, again, we had gangs of kids, and they were great. Most would be intimidated by them, but I was able to give short lectures on the size of space. One young man was decidedly interested, and seems that will certainly be back for the Perseid Meteor Shower on August 12 (dark sky night will be the 13th). In all it was an excellent evening, of chatting with neighbors and seeing people see Jupiter for the first time.

About Jason Kendall

I am currently adjunct faculty at William Paterson University teaching astronomy. I hold a Master of Science in Astronomy from New Mexico State University. I am also a board member of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York. Since 2008, I have led the Inwood Astronomy Project which brought over 200 events of stargazing and public astronomy outreach to upper Manhattan, including the historic Inwood Star Fest, where Inwood Hill Park lights were turned off as part of the 100 Hours of Astronomy event in IYA2009. This was the first time in New York City history when park lights were turned off for an astronomy event. I've also focused on park safety due to an uptick in sexual assaults in Washington Heights and Inwood during 2011. I've worked to make our parks safer by encouraging public use of parks at night through night-time events with Park Rangers. I have led numerous "starwatching parties" and astronomy events in New York City, New Mexico, Minnesota, New Jersey, Connecticut and Texas. I am also proud to have been part of the NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador Program from 2009 to 2012. It all started way back in the fourth grade by the encouragement of two noted astronomers, Charles Schweighauser and Bart Bok. I saw Saturn through Charlie's telescope at then Sangamon State University on a clear Illinois night, and Bart encouraged me under those stars to study hard to come visit him at Kitt Peak National Observatory. I finally did make it down there about a decade after Bart passed away, and I found the favorite spots in Tucson, Arizona, where Bart and his wife Priscilla would spend when they were not gazing at the stars. Bart and his wife were pioneers in the study of the Milky Way, and their studies of the starforming regions called Bok Globules. It's even in my family. My great-grandfather was a Midwestern minister who used to preach his sermons out under the dark, cloudless nights. He always believed that getting out and experiencing the wonders of the natural world was a central part of being human. My family has always been inspired by his words: "We look up to look within." I hope that you'll join me under the stars or at one of my talks.

Come see what's up in the sky!

Jason Kendall

We look up to look within

William Paterson University Department of Physics American Astronomical Society Astronomical Society of the Pacific Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

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