Jason Kendall
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

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Observing report, January 29: Mars Opposition
January 30, 2010

Well, first thing I can say is that it was REALLY COLD. I went out about 8:30 PM, and over the next three hours (!) I was joined by a hardy band of about 15 people, with a good smattering of newbies! To start with, my telescope was still to warm when I went outside. The Cadiotropics have a sealed container, and it takes a long time for the inside of the telescope to cool down. It was about 17 degrees Fahrenheit outside, with windchill down to 1 or 2. That is enough to build character, and enough to make you want to run inside.

Donna helped me set up, but I knew it would take too long for the scope to cool down,so I sent her off for pizza at Grandpa’s. I stayed out there, getting acclimated to the cold. As I waited (nearly in vain) for the seeing to improve, I was joined by Jordan and Maya and Rob and Tamora and Melvin and a host of new people. It was great. We were able to see Mars quite well, but my view was blurry due to the temperature difference inside and outside of the telescope. And the wind. That wind shook things up and made it quite difficult.

The Moon was stunning, and altogether too bright for the 8″ Celestron. The biggest and brightest of the year, was certainly completely true. It was amazing. Jordan’s new ETX90 was superior at looking at the Moon. Congrats on that purchase, Jordan. As we stood outdoors, taking it all all in, and getting progressively colder, all of a sudden, Bruce Kamiat shows up with another scope. Unfortunately, it was about 10pm, and the clouds were beginning to roll in. But he got great views of the Moon and of Mars. There was a lot of sky brightness due to the Moon, but I am sure our hilltop locationat the overlook would have offered us better wind protection and equally good views.

We didn’t wrap things up until Saturn showed his face. Low on the horizon, the rings have started to come back after the Saturnian Equinox.

And just as my seventh layer of cold protection was being breached by the wind, my telescope cooled down. The views of Mars at the end were steady and good, confirming the high quality of the scope. But by then, we were a mess.

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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