Jason Kendall
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

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Take Back The Park
June 15, 2011 8:30 PM to 11:00 PM.

A stargazing event in support of community safety.

Thanks to all who joined us. We had about 100 peple show up to look through the telescopes. Joining me with astronomy equipment were Howard Fink, Bruce Kamiat and Ji Yong Chung. We were also joined by a couple of members of the Inwood Safety Patrol, and a lively group of local hulahoopers. They were great to have out there! In all it was a resounding success, and me stayed out until about 11, as the clouds marched in.

In light of this past weekend's events in Washington Heights and Inwood, it is time the community comes together. We must discuss ways that we can prevent the sexual assaults against the women of our community.

Please click here to read about it.

Please join me under the stars at the baseball diamonds in Inwood Hill Park after 8:30 PM to have a community discussion. We need to use our Park at night, and not give it up to those that would rob and harm us. It is not their Park. It is ours. If we don't use the Park, we give it up to drug-dealers, prostitutes and violent criminals. We must not let that happen.

To that end, I'll bring out my telescope and show off the heavens. Saturn is high in the sky, and so is the Moon. Both are wonderful through a telescope. Saturn's rings leap out, and the rays of the Moon's craters make striking views. By simply coming outdoors into our Park at night to see the stars and planets, you support the safe and responsible use of the Park.

Astronomy is the study of What's Out There. We study it because we are drawn to the hopefulness and wonder that we feel when we see the stars. For some, the stars are where they look for a better life. For some, the stars are guiding lights that affirm faith. For all, the night sky gives us reason to pause and reflect on who we are. My great-grandfather was a minister back in the latter part of the 19th century in rural Indiana. He used to take his cart out to the fields and preach about hope for the future, self-reflection and how to be part of a greater community. Stories from my father and grandfather tell of Great-grandfather Kendall giving hushed sermons under cool, clear night skies. My grandfather said that he would always end such communions with the benediction that "We look up to look within."

Now it is time for our community to look within and to look up.

I urge you to forward this invite to everyone you know.

I hope to see you on Wednesday night.


We will be in the baseball diamonds near the entrance at Seaman and Isham Streets. Please see the map below. To arrive by subway, take the "A" train to the last stop. Come out the stairs at the front of the train, and go up the hill alongside the church. This entrance is right in front of you. The distance between the Meeting Place and the subway is two short blocks at Isham and Seaman Streets. Click here to learn more about Inwood Hill Park. You do not need to bring a telescope. I will provide a 15" Obsession Telescope to look through. It is an amazing view of the heavens. You'll see planets, stars and nebulae!

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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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