Jason Kendall
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

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The International Year of Astronomy Begins
January 9, 2009

So, 2009 is here. And with it are a LOT of things. As part of the IYA 2009, I will be holding a LOT of events. I presented a paper at the 213th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society, the governing body for professional astronomers in the USA.

First, our main neighborhood event are the 100 Nights of Astronomy. Every Wednesday and Saturday Night in 2009, I will be taking out a telescope into one of our neighborhood parks. Inwood Hill Park, Isham Park, Fort Tryon Park. Just look at the links, or consult the WaHi online calendar.

Coming up in April is the global event called the 100 hours of Astronomy. We will have a Star Party in our own Inwood Hill Park featuring the observing talents and telescopes of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York. During these 100 hours, there will be star parties all over the world. I will try to get some wireless communication with some partners across the globe while they are doing their parties. I do have the contacts for Astronomers Without Borders, and can possibly get in touch with people in Tehran (where there is a good bunch of astronomers.) Skype can be pretty cool.

As for my new status as a NASA Solar System Ambassador, I will be doing presentations at the New York Public Library, Inwood Branch on astronomy and physics. (BTW: great for high-schoolers, home-schoolers, and anyone interested.) These are the Uptown Planetarium Shows, and there will be 12 in 2009.

In addition, we will be going outdoors for three major Meteor Showers this year.

On a more serious note, we are also actually going to do REAL Astronomy Science in New York City. The variable star Epsilon Aurigae will start its eclipse in August. It does this once every 29 years. No one is certain what causes the eclipse. We in Inwood will do real science on this star that you can actually see without a telescope from Inwood Hill Park! We will contribute to solving the puzzle of its mysterious eclipse. Come on out and help.

This is what is happening this year! Hope you can join us out in the park!

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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