Jason Kendall
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

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Leonid Meteor Shower
November 17, 2009

Click Here to Read Science@NASA's writeup of the Shower!


Click here to see if it is cloudy or clear tonight.

If you don't see signs at the entrance or lots of chalk marks along the way, then the event is off. Just call the hotline to be sure.

Hosted by Your Friendly Neighborhood Astronomer:
Jason Kendall
NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador for New York City

General Information

Watch little meteors dash across the night sky, exploding in cosmic fire. We stay out after midnight in the Park and up on the hilltop during the most famous of all meteor showers. Bring coffee, a jacket, and a lawn chair. It is a great time just to look up and watch them buzz on by. Maybe you'll see a meteor burst overhead as it tumbles all the way to Earth!

We will be making a night of it on the 17th into the morning of the 18th. They are up late, so we'll meet at the entrance of Inwood Hill Park at Payson and Beak Streets. at 9:00 PM on Tuesday the 17th, and stake out a place in the Park. It will be a very late night, going until very late. It is all weather-permitting, with no rain date. I will post on this website if we are a go or no, so check in frequently right here. You can also gauge our chances looking at the Current Weather and the Clear Sky Clock links at the top of the page. For the exact location of where we will meet, scroll to the bottom of this page.

This is a no-alcohol, no-noise, family-friendly event.


What to bring

Please bring something to sit upon, the best is a lawn chair, where you can look straight up. A beach towel is not enough, since the ground up there is grassy and uneven. A tarp down is not enough on cold ground. Wear long pants and a jacket. The best bring a lawn chair or something to sit upon that allows you to lean back and look straight overhead. Do not bring alcoholic beverages. The parks people will shut it down instantly if they see that. Also, since we are in the park after midnight, it will be a quiet party. iPods with Hearts of Space or Blue Mars are perfect. Importantly, a long-sleeve shirt and jeans are key. Wear them. You will be jealous of those who did. If you bring a flashlight, please make sure you color the lens red or put red cellophane over it so all can preserve everyone's night vision. If you have a small telescope or binoculars, please bring it. The summer overhead skies are gorgeous, and if we are lucky, we'll see more than just meteors.

Again, this is a no-alcohol, no-noise, family-friendly event.


What Is a Meteor Shower?

In the meantime, here are some links to help you learn about meteor showers and what to expect. You'll notice that the dates range a bit, but we are going with NASA's estimate. Please go to the calendar page to add it to your Google Calendar.

NASA has a great little writeup about this year's shower. Visit Science@NASA for more details about this exciting event: http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2008/04dec_leonids2009.htm

StarDate from McDonald Observatory has a good writeup about observing them. Also, they have a daily webcast program on astronomy that is pretty cool. http://stardate.org/nightsky/meteors.


Location

Our location will be the best place to see meteors 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 after 7:00 PM 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 250-yard walk to the top. It always ends up being cooler than you think, so please bring a lawn chair, a jacket, a flashlight with a red gel and wear long pants to keep the bugs at bay. 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



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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