Jason Kendall
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

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Extreme Urban Stargazing: Outreach in New York City and Beyond

A Public Lecture at the Cherry Springs Star Party
Saturday, June 8, 2013, 1:00 PM
Cherry Springs State Park

Free for the public with admission to the Star Party.

There is a fundamental need for the professional community to cultivate and nurture active relationships with amateur astronomy organizations. The rewards of such work are highly beneficial to general public education and town-gown relations, but are time-consuming and hard-won for both amateurs and professionals. New York City and the surrounding area is both ideally situated and unambiguously ill-suited for astronomy public outreach. I will detail the results of three major outreach efforts in coordination with the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York. I will highlight large public-space observing in the context of the Transit of Venus and star parties at other locations. I will also outline outreach efforts at William Paterson University, where two public nights and a Curiosity EDL event created a clear impact in Northern New Jersey. I will detail methods of event participation, urban crowd management, publicity issues, women's and public safety, and the benefits and pitfalls of social media in the promotion and execution of large-scale and moderate events. Also outlined will be public efforts for the "National Star Party Weekend" in September, which is a deliberate fusing of amateur and professional observing events.

This presentation is suitable for the general public, and kids over 12.



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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