Jason Kendall
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

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Night 2/100: Saturday the 24th. Boy was it cold.
January 24, 2009

OK, so how do you know you are an astronomer? You carry a 6" Newtonian with a Dobsonian mount down 5 flights of stairs to go outside for 90 minutes when the air temp is 15 degrees with a 5 degree windchill. And you walk out onto an icy baseball diamond with a thermos of tea that is not completely sealed (note to self....). All to see a sky that is punctuated with street lights as obvious and cluttered with glare bomb lighting. ( Just to make absolutely certain you can't see anyone coming...)

Well, with no one showing up, and the two people who did stop by, they were carrying hot Chinese food that smelled great, but was fast getting cold. I couldn't set up fast enough for them, so I gave the lady-friend a calendar and sen them on their way. I wanted the scope to be cold, and I really actually wanted to see stuff. At this point, I knew the night would just be for me. Now that I was getting used to the cold, and the leaky tea had soaked a mitten, it was the time to get moving.

I stopped in with a visit to my old friends M42 and the Perseus Double-cluster, but then, I wanted a few challenges. I hit 23 UMa, just to see if I could see it 9.3 mag companion, and split them. Yup, there they were. I will have to go back out to see if I can correctly identify the triple.....

I wanted to grab the Crab, since it was nearly at the zenith. But alas, the sky brightness was just too much. There was no moon, and the winds were fairly off and on, so I SHOULD have been able to at least find the star field. Anyway. I did not go up into my darkest location at the top of the hill out of a bizarre anticipation that someone would actually want to come out and look in the scope.

Tonight was clearly just for me. I did enjoy it. Now the cat is snoring, and Donna has already gone to bed. Inwood rests safe. I have taken count for us all and know that the stars are still up there.

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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