Jason Kendall
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

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The LCROSS Impact Approaches!
October 7, 2009

October 9: LCROSS Impacts the Moon!

A NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassadors Program Event
On October 9 at 7:30 AM Eastern time, NASA’s LCROSS spacecraft will crash into the Moon. We won’t be able to see it actually happen in New York City, because the Sun will be up, but we are undaunted! At 3:00 AM, we will meet in the baseball diamonds at Inwood Hill Park for some early AM stargazing, and then at 6:30, we will make our way over to Indian Road Rafe to get breakfast and set up our projection screen to watch the impact LIVE on NASA TV!!!!! The event is free, but please be supportive and get some breakfast at IRC. Even more important, for families and kids, I will be giving all attendees Official NASA material: stickers, posters and pictures! Click Here for the location of the Inwood Hill Park Baseball Diamonds /InwoodAstronomy/2009/1009.shtml

Here’s our event on the official NASA Events Page! http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LCROSS/impact/event_index.html

Big Thanks to IRC for getting up in the morning with us!

Star Party Location:
We are meeting at the baseball diamonds in Inwood Hill Park. To arrive by subway, take the "A" train to the last stop. Come out the stairs at the front of the train, and go up the hill alongside the church. This entrance is right in front of you. The distance between the Meeting Place and the subway is two short blocks at Isham and Seaman Streets. Come see the Orion Nebula, the Moon, wonder star clusters and Venus in the morning sky.

About the LCROSS Mission
The LCROSS mission is a search for water on the moon. The LCROSS mission is going to do this by sending a rocket crashing into the moon causing a big impact and creating a crater, throwing tons of debris and potentially water ice and vapor above the lunar surface. This impact will release materials from the lunar surface that will be analyzed for the presence of hydrated minerals which would tell researchers if water is there or not. The two main components of the LCROSS mission are the Shepherding Spacecraft (S-S/C) and the Centaur upper stage rocket. The Shepherding Spacecraft guides the rocket to a site selected on the moon that has a high probability of containing water. Because they have only one chance with this mission in finding water, the researchers have to be very precise where they program the Shepherding Spacecraft to guide the rocket. The Shepherding Spacecraft and Centaur rocket were launched together with another spacecraft called the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). All three were connected to each other for launch, but then the LRO separated one hour after launch. The Shepherding Spacecraft is now guiding the Centaur rocket through multiple Earth orbits, each taking about 38 days. The rocket on October 9 will separate from the Shepherding Spacecraft and impact the Moon at more than twice the speed of a bullet, causing an impact that results in a big plume or cloud of lunar debris, and possibly water. While this is happening the Shepherding Spacecraft, which has scientific instruments on-board including cameras, will take pictures of the rocket’s descent and impact into the moon. Four minutes later, the Shepherding Spacecraft follows almost the exact same path as the rocket, descending down through the big plume and analyzing it with special instruments. The analysis is specifically looking for water (ice and vapor), hydrocarbons and hydrated materials. The Shepherding Spacecraft is collecting data continuously and transmitting it back to Earth before its own demise. This crash will be so big that we on Earth may be able to view the resulting plume of material it ejects with a good amateur telescope.

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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