Jason Kendall
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

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Star-Gazing Kindles Autistic Boy's Learning and Speech

I was interviewed for this feature while at Cherry Springs Star Party in June 2014. It was an amazing thing to see the young man interacting. It was done by Will Yurman, an excellent journalist for Accuweather.

http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/video-stargazing-kindles-autis/32275701

Will Yurman ventured to Cherry Springs' star party in Pennsylvania and captured the touching story of how star-gazing changed an autistic boy's life.

His autism, diagnosed at an early age, left him closed off to people and the world. His passion for astronomy has opened him up to more than just the stars, connecting him to the world around him.

Video by Will Yurman, who has worked in journalism for more than 30 years as a still photographer and multimedia producer. Will was a long-time staff photographer at the (Rochester, New York) Democrat and Chronicle. He also spent three years based in Jerusalem covering the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. His work has been published in print and online around the world including the Washington Post, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sydney Morning Herald, Newsweek, Le Monde and NBCNews.com and exhibited at The George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.

His still photography and multimedia work have been recognized in the Best of Photography and Pictures of the Year International contests, among many others.

He is currently a senior lecturer in the College of Communications at Penn State University where he teaches photojournalism and multimedia. He lives in State College, Pennsylvania, with his wife Hilary Appelman and their two children.



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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