Jason Kendall
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

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August 1: Stargazing Party!
Observe the Moon Night with Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS)
A NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassadors Program Event


About this Stargazing Party:

As part of the International Year of Astronomy, this IYA Summer Star Party on August 1 will focus on observing the Moon. Across the country, amateur astronomy clubs will be setting up their telescopes and providing members of the public with opportunities to conduct their own first-hand exploration of the lunar surface. NASA's LCROSS mission and the NASA Lunar Science Institute will join with local amateur astronomers to help people see the Moon in a new light! Come on out and learn about the LCROSS mission and take in our nearest celestial neighbor. Click Here to learn more about the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (lCROSS) mission, and what we are doing tonight. We will meet at our normal Saturday night location.

Even more important, for families and kids, I will be giving all attendees Official NASA material: stickers, posters and pictures!

Location:

This location is the best place to see stars in Manhattan. This "Forever Wild" park has no streetlamps and we are 200 feet above the city lights below. Dark and wonderful, it is a great way to experience the night sky right near home. About an hour before sunset -- call the hotline for the exact time -- we will meet at the park entrance at Payson and Beak Streets. We always wait about 15 minutes for people before walking up. Along the way, we will mark the path with white chalk every 20-30 feet for latecomers. For those that do arrive late, go to Beak and Payson Streets. You wlll see signs and chalk markings on the path. It is about a 200-yard walk to the top. It always ends up being cooler than you think, so please bring a jacket, a flashlight and wear long pants for the bugs. To arrive by subway, take the "A" train to the last 200th Street/Dyckman Street stop. Walk towards the Park on Dyckman Street (go West) and take a right on Seaman Street. Go up the Hill to Beak Street, and take a left. The entrance is right there.

Please Click On and print out the Trail Map below. Also, view it in Google Maps.

View Large Area and Street Map on Google Maps

Event Report

Well, now we are into nights 40 and 41 of the 100 Nights of Astronomy in New York. This large undertaking has become a lot of fun, and has spawned a lot of interest, thanks in very large part to the friends and neighbors with telescopes. On August 1, it was IYA Observe the Moon Night with Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS).

And observe the Moon we did! Over the course of the evening, about 60 people made their way to the top of the Hill in Inwood Hill Park. Known by many names, this clearing has been called Goat Meadow, Sunset, Overlook Meadow, and who knows what else it is called. Without an official name from the Parks Department, we.ll just have to christen it some good name. It will come sooner or later.

Anyway, as we walked to the summit, from the park entrance, I had a good group laying down chalk every 20 feet. That helped quite a few late-comers. I only took up my 6. Dobsonian, because it is just infinitely easier to carry up those hills. It is a good 300 yards to the top, and a good 250 foot elevation change. And when you get there, if you packed water or food, you tuck in immediately, even before setting anything up. But set up we needed to do quickly. The Moon was near full, and a goodly crowd of about 25 people was waiting to see our nearest celestial neighbor. So out they came.

Shoba Bindo Rao was there, giving her expertise on the sky. Rob Mahoney had a Galileoscope which was a perfect thing to take to the top. Even with a slightly rickety tripod, he was able to get great views all night, including actually being able to see the bands of Jupiter with it. I might just start taking mine up too.. Rich Herrera had his refractor, I think it is a 4., and he was able to see quite a bit as well. Maya and Jordan brought up the binocs, and Jordan refused to look through the Galileoscope since he wanted to build and look through his first. With his laminated lunar map, he helped teach people the wonders of the Moon. Fred, as always, introduced people to how to use the telescopes and looked for wildlife.

I chatted about the LCROSS mission to the interested crowd. But even more interesting were the debates that popped up as a result. .Why go back to the Moon?. .Water on the Moon?. .Won.t the impactor cause something bad to happen here?. .How can you tell if water is there by hitting the Moon?. We went on for a while and got into it, with many people and many chats happening. In all, we had amazing views of the Moon with many oohs and ahhs all around. It was a great evening with Lady Luna.

But as the Moon, not at a great altitude for our location, dipped behind the trees, we were able to point out numerous double stars. But the Moon.s glow and the approaching clouds made clear that it was not going to be a late night. Fortunately, they held off long enough for Jupiter to rise into view. Those late hangers-on got a great view of the moons, and the atmospheric structures on Jupiter. The dark patch was nowhere to be seen. Soon, we bid the bats and the bugs and the skunks a good night and descended to the street below, ending up with a beer at the Piper.s Kilt.

Thanks to the great people at LCROSS for sending out a great big stack of IYA handouts and bookmarks! The crowd was happy with them, and I lots more to give out.



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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