Jason Kendall
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

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100 nights continues on Night 12...
March 6, 2009

It was a great night, and we are learning about our hilltop. The first thing is that weeknights, Columbia Fields keep their lights on just to annoy the neighbors until 10:15 or 10:30. It is a huge waste of energy and cash. I am sure that there are all of 10 people on the fields at that time. One good thing about the downturn is that they might reconsider this terrible practice. The lights that go onte the apartment buildings across the river must reduce the property values, and really annoy the people who live there. We can dodge the lights in our park, but Columbia is a truly bad neighbor for not turning off those lights or putting in downward-directed lights that only illuminate the field, rather than the whole universe like at Last Scattering.

So, we might start pushing back the start times of the hilltop events to 10:00 just to give us a chance to actually see the stars before we get tired or cold.

Once the lights were off, it did not take long at all to find Comet Lulin. It was moving right along, still no tail, and still very faint, even in an 8" Nextar with a 25mm plossl and a 2x Barlow. but then, we do get a bit of a soup over the Bronx. It is near time to take the Great Trek over to the Lookout....

But the evening went well, we had about 10 people come and got at the top of the hill. Amy and Elvin came by to help out. And we had a knowledgeable and patient group. I think I need to come up with ideas for stuff for people to do while I hunt for objects. I am thinking of basic star charts as a takeaway. That would be really good. It is one more thing to haul up and down. Now that I have figured out how to carry it all, the backpack idea is the best. I am just waiting on a bag that I ordered to carry the OTA and the mount. That will make life easy.

In all last night, we spotted 4 moons of Saturn, the atmospheric bands of Saturn, saw the comet move with respect to the background stars over the three hours. In addition, we saw good apparitions of M41 (gotta love the new eyepiece), M67 and M44. The moon was particularly blinding. Time to get that Moon Filter...

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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