Jason Kendall
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

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Orionid Meteor Shower: October 20 into October 21, 2012


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 best meteor shower of the year. 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!

Learn More About Meteor Showers Here.


Where to see the Orionid Meteor Shower in New York City

There are two great places where there are few enough streetlights and lamps to see the meteors. You will not see any unless you get away from streetlights. They are too dim compared to them. All Meteor Shower watching always begins after midnight and goes until an hour before sunrise. This is always true because that's how the Earth moves in its orbit. Basically, meteors are like bugs and so we have to be looking out the front window to see them hit us. The nighttime "front window" of automobile Earth is midnight to sunrise. Telescopes are not required. Just a lawn chair and a blanket. Yes, even if it is 80 degrees, you should wear long pants; bugs like to bite people.

  1. Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan. Easily accessible by subway on the "A" Train. This park closes at 1:00 AM, so people will need to try seeing them early in the evening, rather than after midnight.
  2. Floyd Bennett Field in Gateway National Park in Brooklyn. This area is open to the public, so just going out there is OK without AAA to lead. Bring bug spray.

Places to see the Orionid Meteor Shower near New York City

To really see meteors, you need to get out of town. Here are three places within an hour that you can get to to see the shower:

  1. North South Lake, up in the Catskills, about an hour drive north. This is an EXCELLENT location, and you can camp in your car. It's the original Catskills, and there are some very nice restaurants to eat at in the little town of Haines Falls. They have a lot of camping slots, but I suspect that they'll fill up for this. I may take my wife here, since it is close to our wedding anniversary.
  2. Jenny Jump State Park with the United Astronomical Clubs of New Jersey. About an hour West of NYC. This is an EXCELLENT location, and they are open on every Saturday night. Arrive early for a good chat about astronomy as part of their public programs.

What to bring

Please bring something to sit upon, the best is a lawn chair, where you can look straight up. Also, there will be bugs so wear long pants and a jacket, and bring bug spray. The best bring a lawn chair or something to sit upon that allows you to lean back and look straight overhead. Do not bring alcoholic beverages. It is illegal to bring alcohol into NYC Parks Importantly, a long-sleeve shirt and jeans are key. Wear them. You will be jealous of those who did. 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. Telescopes are not required for meteor showers; just patience and looking up.


What Is a Meteor Shower?

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

This 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. Enter the park entrance at Payson and Beak Streets. It is about a 250-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 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.

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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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