Jason Shilling Kendall: Citizen Astronomer

William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

Your Local Neighborhood Astronomer

"June Skies" an interview on The Weather Channel's, "Wake Up With Al Roker"

About Jason

Jason Kendall is your neighbor in Inwood, part of Northern Manhattan in New York City. Current teaching at William Paterson University in the Physics Department, he holds a Master of Science in Astronomy from New Mexico State University. He has taught Astronomy at the high school and college level. Jason Kendall was a proud member of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Solar System Ambassador Program from 2009 to 2012. Currently, he is also part of the Explainer Program at the American Museum of Natural History in the Earth And Space Division. On Sunday mornings, Jason can be found roaming the Rose Center explaining Size Scales of the Universe, or talking about the origin of the Solar System with the Willamite Meteorite. He has led numerous "starwatching parties" at New Mexico State University, Minnesota State University in Mankato, and The University of Texas at Austin. It all started way back when Jason was in the fourth grade by the encouragement of two noted astronomers, Charles Schweighauser and Bart Bok. Jason saw Saturn through Charlie's telescope at then Sangamon State University and always wanted to see it again and again and again. Bart Bok inspired Jason by telling him at the same ripe young age to come visit him at Kitt Peak National Observatory. Jason did make it down there about 10 years after Bart passed away, finding 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. Jason hopes to inspire a few kids in our little neighborhood just like Bart and Charlie did for him.

International Year of Astronomy

Under the moniker "Inwood Astronomy Project", Jason undertook to participate deeply in the International Year of Astronomy in 2009. This global public outreach effort was declared and supported by the United Nations agency UNESCO and the International Astronomical Union. One of the big goals of this international and global effort was to have one million people look through a telescope during that year. This was the primary focus of the Inwood Astronomy Project. Driven by the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first looking through a telescope at the Heavens, we sought to get 5000 New Yorkers to look through a telescope for the first time. Intending to hold 100 stargazing sessions in 2009, I managed to do about 52. To do it, I didn't let a little sky brightness (well a LOT of sky brightness...) stand in our way. In fact, I used the street lights and corners and parks to safely show the wonders of the night sky to people in Manhattan who may never have looked through a telescope in their lives. With the support of the American Astronomical Society, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York, we did very well in this goal.

Conference Proceedings and Presentations

Resumes

Community

The Vibrant City

New York City once could see the Milky Way from an evening sky. And this was just fifty years ago. The simple act of looking up and talking about the stars at night is a great introduction to science. We hope to bring our diverse community out and under the skies. We want to show, once again, that the night sky is for all people. The lessons, knowledge, wonder and romance of those little lights in the sky crosses all cultures and all languages. All cultures own the stars in their stories and in their histories. We all feel the same awe and quiet when we look up in the sky. This yearning to know what is out there has spawned mythologies and drawn mankind to the first tentative footsteps on the Moon. It is my hope to inspire a renewed interest in the most wondrous of all our natural resources: the night sky. We also hope to strike the spark of curiosity in the youth of our neighborhood. Who knows? The kid playing stickball in the hot summer streets might grow up to build a rocket to the Moon.


William Paterson University Department of Physics American Astronomical Society Amateur Astronomers Association of New York Astronomical Society of the Pacific