Jason Kendall
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

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Perseid Meteor Shower: August 12, 2010

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


Update: Thursday afternoon, August 12: Cancelled due to clouds and rain.

The weather is going wrong for us. The satellite maps are showing a big storm system that will stay with us all night. Clear Sky Clocks (blocky things above) look terrible for seeing meteors tonight. Your best chance for seeing meteors is to wait until after the peak on Friday night into Saturday morning.

The Clear Sky Clocks (click on the boxes above) for our area are bad for stargazing and meteor watching. The darker the boxes, the better.

We are doing a lot of great stuff uptown, including weekly stargazing in a dark park in Northern Manhattan, lectures and kid's astronomy presentations at the Inwood Hill Park Nature Center and the New York Public Library. Stargazing is better than you think in upper Manhattan, and we have a great crew of people and neighbors who join us every week. Here is our report from last week's observing, where we saw all seven planets in one night!


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! In 2009, we were clouded out, but in 2008, we saw about 60 meteors from our location over the course of 5 hours.

The event will last from 10:00 PM until 1:00 AM on the 12th into the 13th. The park closes at 1:00 AM. Enter Inwood Hill Park at Payson and Beak Streets at 10:00 PM on Thursday the 12th. Look at the trail map below and print one out. It is all weather-permitting, with no rain date. 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 first is OK. Also, there will be bugs from all our rain recently, so wear long pants and a jacket, and bring bug spray. Do not bring alcoholic beverages; it is illegal to bring alcohol into the Park. Also, since we are in the park after dark, it will be a quiet party. 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 them. The summer overhead skies are gorgeous, and if we are lucky, we'll see a lot of meteors.

Again, this is a no-alcohol, no-noise, family-friendly event. Just don't bring them. Those bringing it will be asked to leave. Besides, your night vision actually gets worse when you drink.


What Is a Meteor Shower?

In the meantime, here are some links to help you learn about meteor showers and what to expect.

Science @NASA has an easy writeup about this year's shower. Visit http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/05aug_perseids/ to learn more

NASA/JPL has a great little writeup about this year's shower. Visit http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2010-119 for more details about this exciting event.

Here is another resource from an avid Meteor Shower Group. http://www.meteorshowersonline.com/perseids.html

And the latest Sky and Telescope magazine has some goodies: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/highlights/99304684.html

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. After 10:00 PM -- call the hotline after 7:00 PM for the exact time -- we will enter the park at Payson and Beak Streets. Along the way, we will mark the path with white chalk every 20-30 feet for latecomers. It is about a 300-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 and shoes 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


View Inwood Astronomy Project Locations in a larger map



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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