Jason Kendall
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

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The Battle for (Planet) Pluto

A special Homecoming event at William Paterson University

Event webpage at WPU | Facebook Event |

Saturday, September 20, 7:30 PM - 11:30 PM.
Science Hall East, Room 2064, WPU
Free and open to the general public
Stargazing hotline: +1 973-720-4852

Come out for a great evening of stargazing fun with William Paterson University. We start with a public lecture on Pluto, the demoted dwarf planet. Prof. Jason Kendall of WPU's Physics Department will talk about why astronomers demoted the outermost planet, and what's in store in 2015 when a spacecraft flies by it. Following the talk, there will be a raffle with some great astronomy prizes. Then, we'll take a walk out to the Wightman Football Field to go stargazing. You'll be able to see stars and nebulae through a telescope! If it's clear, it'll be a moonless night, giving us the best opportunity to see what the skies can offer. The telescopes will be operated by Prof. Kendall's Introduction to Astronomy class. They've been working hard all semester learning the skies and and are ready to be your Star Ambassadors. In the event of a cloudy or rainy night, we'll follow the lecture with a 45-minute movie. Please also make sure to call the hotline, because the stargazing event will be changed to a movie in the event of clouds or rain. Local area amateur astronomers are invited to bring their telescopes. Kids and families are welcome. This event is hosted by the faculty of the Physics Department of William Paterson University.


Since stargazing depends upon clear nights, if it cloudy or rainy, we'll cancel the outdoor program. Please call the hotline above for updates about whether or not we'll be stargazing. 973-720-4852

The Battle for (Planet) Pluto

In 1930, Clyde Tombaugh found a tiny moving speck in the inky blackness. He had finally found Percival Lowell's Planet X, but he could not have known the trouble and joy that this pint-sized ball of ice would cause back here on Earth. Always seen as the oddball planet, but loved for it anyway by children worldwide, Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Mike Brown essentially brought about its very public downfall to "dwarf planet" status. Only 1500 miles wide, this tiny world is soon to have a visitor, the New Horizons spacecraft, thus beginning the exploration of the most remote sector of the Solar System. Come learn about this wonderful "planet" and how it will tell us about our own origins.

Raffle Prizes


Please use Lot #2, which is right next to the Wightman Football Field. There will be signs from Pompton Road, to turn north onto Mills Drive. Park in Lot #2 and walk up to the football field. The stargazing event will be on the track in front of the home seats. The public lecture is in Science Hall East.

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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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