Jason Kendall
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

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Vesta Fiesta! Dawn Arrives at Vesta

A Free Public Lecture and Science Experiment Event!
Sunday, September 18, 2011: 1:00 PM
Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, New York

The spacecraft Dawn has finally arrived at the asteroid Vesta after a four year interplanetary trek. Propelled with the lightest of touches by its revolutionary ion thrusters, Dawn slowly matched its velocity to match the minor planet Vesta, the second largest asteroid in the asteroid belt. Dawn seeks to study this ancient body and learn its secrets. Vesta's surface is as old as the Solar System and hasn't beet changed much since then (except for one big impact that spans most of the Southern pole), so Dawn seeks to learn the composition of the oldest bodies, and helps us to find clues about the origin of the Solar System. We have meteorites from Vesta (I'll bring one!) but they are changed by landing on Earth. Dawn will see the real thing and will take us on a journey back in time to the dawn of the Solar System.


"Asteroid Vesta: DAWN Explores a New World"

Take Colorado, round it off into a rough oval, and make a flattened ball with roughly the same profile. Dust it with a 70/30 mixture of beach sand and buckwheat, punch it a few times, scratch it with a giant rake, and take a big scoop out of one side. You've just made a dead ringer for Vesta, the third largest asteroid, the second most massive asteroid, and the latest world to be seen close-up, for the first time, by robotic eyes.

The DAWN spacecraft entered Vesta orbit in July, completing the first leg of a journey which began in September 2007. It has begun our reconnaissance of this enigmatic body, which up until now has been only a circular blur in even the Hubble Space Telescope. In a 45-minute talk, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador Jason Kendall will cover DAWN's first crop of discoveries and images, and explore why Vesta and DAWN's other goal, the dwarf planet Ceres, are of such interest to astronomers. Ages 8 and up.

"Asteroid X"

What do motorized potatoes have to do with asteroids? After the presentation, find out in our "Asteroid X" workshop! Using common, earthly tubers, we'll investigate how the shape, size, and other features of an asteroid can be determined by discovering patterns in the light it reflects. Ages 8 and up.

The Hudson River Museum is up in Yonkers, and features the only hourly planetarium show in the NYC Metro area. To get directions and more information, please visit http://www.hrm.org.

Facebook event RSVP

Dawn Mission Home Page

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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