Jason Kendall
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

Follow me on Twitter | Calendar | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008

Please come visit my new page at www.jasonkendall.com

September 15: Caring for Children

On the evening of September 15, my wife Donna and I shared the night sky with children staying at the New York Presbyterian Children's Hospital. The kids are there dealing with life-threatening illnesses and surgeries, and their families are staying with them for support. The hospital's events staff asked me to come in and give a short talk on astronomy and show them the sky through a telescope in the public conference room. My wife and her singers were an integral part of the event, singing her IYA2009 song "Up Up Up in the Sky" as well as a lullaby based on the zodiacal constellations.

I talked about many things, including New Horizons and Kepler Space Telescope, but the highlight was getting the kids who were out of wheelchairs, and one who was in hers, help me set up a human Solar System. They all wanted to participate, and each one wanted to be their own planet. I gave all the children and their families NASA and space posters. One of the neat things was to give the families a break. They all are going through the hospital stay together and the families need to have things that help them forget for just a moment, and release their strong emotions in which they are immersed. The hospital events staff creates these events to help the families with their difficult job of caring for their children. Apparently, nothing does that better than seeing Albireo and the Perseus Double Cluster through a telescope. I was swarmed by kids and adults alike with my 8" Celestron outside in the yard.

One particularly moment with a 6-year-old, Malcolm, and his father. Clearly tired from the excitement, Malcolm wanted to stay up as long a he could. As I got a poster of galaxies from the wall for him, I also got him a "Fermi Cube", a little item with pictures of the Fermi Space Telescope on it. As I unwrapped it and showed it to him, he was enthralled with the images, a tear growing in his eye as I chatted with him about it. His father looked over Malcolm's shoulder, and upon seeing his son enjoying himself, a smile dawned across his face for what looked like the first time in a long while. Malcolm was too tired to come outside to look through the telescope, but the time was a good one for him. He said good night, and he and his father walked hand-in-hand back into the hospital, their other hands filled with posters and thoughts of space and stars and distant planets. The Hospital wishes Donna and I to return Thanksgiving week for another presentation, and we plan to do so.

Thanks Belinda, Alice and Moria.

Also Featured at this Event...

A Special Performance of "Up Up Up in the Sky"
Written and Composed by Donna Stearns
An official song of the International Year of Astronomy.

For this event, "Up, Up, Up in the Sky" was performed by Donna Stearns, Brady Amoon, Beth Devlin, Lela Frechette, Michelle Kafel, Amanda Ochoa and Eric Vetter.

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

(c) 2008 Jason Kendall | Inwood Astronomy | MoonBeam.Net | Donna Stearns | Shakespeare Saturdays | First Dance | About | Contact