Jason Kendall
The Inwood Astronomy Project, New York City
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York
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Stargazing at the Inwood Hill Park Bear Rock Meadow

Saturdays in 2013: June 15 through August 31, weather pemitting
Stargazing sessions are supported by the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York.


Inwood Hill Park Bear Rock Meadow
Photo of Bear Rock by Hank Schenker

Please click on and print out the Trail Map shown to the right, or click here.

This location is the best place to see stars 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.
All stargazing outings are a no-alcohol, no-noise events.

When it Happens

In 2013, we'll be going up to the hilltop every clear Saturday night in June, July and August. It starts at sundown, so it's best to arrive right before sundown and watch the sunset from the hilltop. After the 2013 schedule, going up to the hilltop is not a regularly scheduled event. These sessions will usually be Friday or Saturday nights, but they could be any night if something interesting is happening. I deliberately announce them only a few hours in advance of going up to the hilltop. To know about these special, sporadic events, you need to subscribe to the Google Group, Facebook Group or Twitter feed. I will also always post something on this website across the top. So, if it looks clear out, and it's a weekend night, check out the pages and see if we are going up. Times will typically be from 8:00 PM until late. But the Park closes at 1:00 AM, so you'll need to be out of there by then.

What to Wear

In the Summer bugs are out in force, so wear a jacket, long pants and shoes. If you don't wear long pants and shoes, you will really wish you had. Also wear good walking shoes, because it is a 300 yard walk to the top. In the Fall and Spring, make sure to bring a hat and gloves, because it always feels colder than you think it is. In the Winter, seriously bundle up; it can get cold up there, much colder than you think.

What to Bring

Just bring yourself and a friend. We have all the rest. Bring binoculars if you have them. If you have telescope gear, please contact Jason about the best way to transport it to the top. You can print out a star map. And please bring a red cover for your flashlight. It is also nice to bring a lawn chair. These are a no-alcohol, no-noise events.

Young Children

It's OK to bring kids, but parents must ask me how to use the telescope. Parents will then look through the telescope first, and they will have to teach their children how to look. Any child with food in their hands will not be allowed to look.

Pets

Please leave your dog at home. Telescope equipment is expensive.

Safety

Since 2008, I have done over 200 stargazing events at this location with over 5000 people having safely joined me with no incidents. I have taken very expensive equipment up to the hilltop alone and stayed until well after 3AM with no problems. Its isolation is what makes it safe. All of the crime and problems in Inwood happen in the well-lit areas: i.e. on the streets under the lamps and near buildings. This is the same for anywhere in New York City. Personal experience, anecdotal evidence and police statistics support this statement. To help keep it safe, these events are deliberately held sporadically with minimal advertising to keep attendance low. Low foot traffic and irregular patterns assure that bad guys don't ever take notice. They never have, and I don't want them to start. That being said, always come up with a buddy. It's New York City, after all. I don't want anyone to be That First One. Also, when coming up, it is always safest to come up with either no flashlight or with a red-gel flashlight. This way your eyes can dark-adapt, which is always the safest thing to be in a park. Extraneous lights blind you and make you unable to see. So, it is safest to reduce the lighting that you bring into the park.

Arrive at the Park by Subway

To arrive by subway, take the "A" train to the 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. You can also use the Google streep map and street images below to know what it looks like.

Entering the Park

The park entrance is at Payson and Beak Streets . I mark the path with white chalk every 20-30 feet. If you don't see signs or chalk marks at the entrance or lots of chalk marks along the way, then there is no event that night, or we have packed up and left. We typically leave by midnight. Print out the trail map above.


View Inwood Astronomy Project Locations in a larger map


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
The Inwood Astronomy Project is thankful for the support of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the New York Public Library, the International Year of Astronomy and the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York


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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