Jason Kendall
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

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Inwood Hill Park West Overlook Meadow
Saturday, August 7 Observing Report

What a great night it was. I hauled the 8" up to the hilltop, but with all the help I had, I could have easily brought the 15". Thursday, perhaps? Anyway, we made it up to the top, bringing up a goodly crew, that numbered about 15 at the beginning. I set up rather quickly, so as to get Mercury before it set. But, the main event was the conjunction of Saturn, Mars and Venus in the setting sky. As sunset approached, we had a number of couples who were up there for the first time, and a bunch of good kids who knew a number of things.

The evening arrived, and Venus jumped out first, then Saturn, then Mars. Soon, other overhead stars appeared, but these three held us all in thrall. People got excited, and all arrivals were shown the configuration by someone else that was already there. This show and the good fellowship went on all night, even after this trio of Planets set. All were visible easily, with Venus a good quarter phase, and Saturn's moon Titan in view. Mars was, as it has been, a tiny dot. Mercury stole a bit of the show, giving a gibbous phase in the telescope.

The evening went on well, with new people arriving frequently. There came and went a bunch of people. One even wanted to sell a telescope. There was even one new telescope from another Jason. I was glad he arrived.

After that, it was good old standard public events fare, with M objects and double stars, with constellation naming galore.

There was a great little family with a 8-year-old girl who was an inspiration to the crowd. Full of confidence, I showed her how to use the telescope, and had her look for meteors. She did well. I hope to see her and her family again.

Then near the end of the evening, we waited for Jupiter to rise above our trees. We glimpsed the four moons, with Io transiting across Jupiter. We completed the evening with Uranus and Neptune in the scope. Uranus was a pale blue disk and Neptune was a pale blue dot. We had about 50 people show up to enjoy the evening with us.

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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