Jason Kendall
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

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Last Day of 2008
December 31, 2008

Well Happy New Year's Eve to all out there in Whoville. Here we celebrate the establishment of a midwinter festival from the 16th century. Most people did not use the January 1 as the "New Year" until the latter part of the 1500's.

In any event, people are buying flowers and coming home from wherever. It is pretty cold out tonight, with a sub-zero wind chill and blowing snow from this afternoon's dusting. I figured I would take my Mighty ETX 90 out and give it a go.

I set up on the corner of Isham and Cooper, right by the Terrace. It didn't take long to realize that it can get pretty cold, pretty fast. Anyway, I only spent about an hour outside, and the Moon was in a lovely waxing crescent phase. Venus was in quarter phase, just below it in the sky. The wind kicked up quite a lot of snow, and it was blowing all around. After the telescope cooled off (didn't take long...) the images were only made blurry by the fact that the heat coming off the apartment buildings was giving a shimmer. Otherwise, the Moon was gorgeous.

Amazingly enough, I had about 20 people stop by and take a peek at the Moon and also at Venus. I gave out a few cards, and hopefully we'll get some more people next time! I am always amazed that people will stop in such awful weather to look at the sky. It is truly something. It proves to me that the project next year will be a truly successful one. The City wants it. The neighbors love it. It is a marvelous thing to be able to give the sky through a telescope to people.

In all, it was a great way to see the sky on a New Year's Eve. Now on to a party at Ali and Yianni's



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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