Jason Kendall
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

Follow me on Twitter | Calendar | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008

Please come visit my new page at www.jasonkendall.com

Who Owns Our Park?
June 15, 2009

I have been hearing from a lot of people that they are not feeling safe coming up to the hilltop to take in the stars. I understand why. There are numerous blogs and posts that outline the difficulty facing our community right now from increased crime in Inwood and Washington Heights.

I hope people go to the Town Hall Meeting sponsored by Assemblymember Espaillat. It is on Thursday the 25th at 7:00 PM at the Northeastern Academy located on West 215th Street between Park Terrace East & West. We need to express our dissatisfaction with the situation in our neighborhood.

A large park can become a magnet for wackos and meatheads. Just yesterday, Donna and I watched undercover police pull over a vehicle in front of the Good Shepherd Church. The car was driven by kids, and their appearance made me think they were dealers, but I really hope I was wrong. It was a nice car, and perhaps dealers never carry in their nice car, they just front for a second car somewhere else in the neighborhood.

Anyway, I want you to be able to enjoy the wonders of the night sky, as you should, safely and in the dark. Darkness is the friend of astronomy and the starting place for wonder and contemplation. I strongly encourage you to go to the meeting and express your desire to get a stronger police presence, and even a larger Inwood Patrol presence in our neighborhood.

I am doing my part by not succumbing to fear. But I am not being stupid about it either. Wednesday night, June 17, if it is clear, please come on out to the Fort Tryon Park location by the Cloisters. We need to use the park en masse to show the growing gangs and hoods that the Park is ours, especially at night.

It all goes by way of saying that our Saturday night sessions at the Meadow Overlook at the top of the park are beautiful. The night skies at the hilltop are actually dark, and you can see some excellent cosmic sights. I want to be able to share it with everyone, because this treasure is too valuable to give over to unsavory types. If we do it as a group, then we do it safely and with a great statement. I hope you'll join me.

We meet at sundown at Isham and Seaman streets in the baseball diamonds near the entrance. Look for me out in the field. (We cancel if it is rainy or overly cloudy.)


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

(c) 2008 Jason Kendall | Inwood Astronomy | MoonBeam.Net | Donna Stearns | Shakespeare Saturdays | First Dance | About | Contact