Jason Kendall
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

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And the kids come out to play...
October 12, 2008

Last night was great. The moment I set up at Isham and Seaman, there was a crowd of rowdy high-schoolers. They were full of the normal energy of kid-hood, and were happy to see the Moon and Jupiter (now almost too low in the sky to view....) Posters were handed out, and the jealousies and taunts abounded. As always, there was one that stuck around longer than his peers. They just wanted to get one more look. That is how it always is. It always captures someone's real spirit of adventure and curiosity. This curiosity is the basis for all the greatness that has ever occurred in the world. It is wonderful to see it pop up easily and forthrightly in our little neighborhood.

As time went, a returning viewing came by. He brought his 4 kids - I think they were out on a walk together - and we played with the scope to get it in the right places. We eventually got the telescope out into the baseball diamonds, in a rush to see Jupiter one more time. We were successful, and now we were out in the middle of the fields. And we managed to pick up three more kids who were looking for something different to do.

The father's four children were very young and respectful. They really were the most interested of the bunch. But the 3 teenagers from Yonkers were all fired up too. We saw a lot: Jupiter, The Moon, The Ring Nebula, M31 (yup! again I rule finding this in NYC with only a 6" under huge streetlamps....), H and X Perseus double-cluster (the best thing all night) as well as the standard Albireo, Alcor and Mizar. In all, with our lively discussions, it made for a truly pleasant evening. The 35 (!) people that waked by last night brings my total attendance to about 350 viewers through my telescopes.

I hope to create more daytime activities, and I have finally update my google calendar for 2009. Getting close to fully locked and loaded.

Also, it is great to be able to team up with the Columbia Grad Students. gotta try to get them to come all the way up some night.

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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