Jason Shilling Kendall: Citizen Astronomer

William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York
Hunter College

Public Lectures at the New York Public Library, Inwood Branch

Inwood Branch of the New York Public Library
4790 Broadway, New York, NY, 10034


The Big Bang: Latest Results from Planck

August 10, 2013

The Big Bang happened 13.7 billion years ago. It heralded the origin of our universe, and gave rise to everything and everyone. Instead of just learning stories and myths about how it all started, we live in the era of "precision cosmology." We know the age of the universe better than we know the age of the dinosaur bones in the Museum of Natural history. Join Jason Kendall, adjunct faculty of Physics and Astronomy at William Paterson University, on a trip through space and time as he discusses the Planck Mission: the most advanced mission to investigate the Cosmic Microwave Background. This is the light from the beginning of the universe, just reaching us now. It gives us a "baby picture" of the cosmos. How was this light formed? Why is the universe expanding? What made the elements in our universe? Do we really think that the universe had an inflationary epoch? Is there an edge to the Universe? If the universe is expanding, what's it expanding into? If the universe has a baby picture, do we have baby pictures of galaxies? What needed to happen such that our Milky Way, our Sun and our Earth could form, thus allowing life to arise on Earth? The Big Bang does not address how life arose, but it does tell us an amazing story about the rest of Creation that is far stranger than anyone could have imagined. This story is still being written, and the adventurers in this drama piece together this mystery with the hard-won evidence unearthed by COBE, WMAP and Planck. Like an unfinished symphony, we'll hear how the story of the Universe's origin goes so far.

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Life in the Universe

July 13, 2013

We live in an amazing time where we are just beginning to explore our Solar System, hunting for signs of past life on other worlds. We'll look at Curiosity, currently roving Mars, and looking for signs of past habitable places. We'll look at Jupiter, and the possibility for life under the ice of this enomrmous moon. We'll go to Saturn, and investigate two of its moons, Enceladus and Titan, both of which dare us to imagine life on their surfaces. We'll also look at the Kepler Mission, the spacecraft that found 2700 planets around other stars. Is there life out there? We don't know. But we now have the ability to leave behind science fiction and learn science fact.

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Curiosity on Mars

August 25, 2012

The Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity, landed successfully on Mars in Gale Crater on August 6th. We'll review its findings so far and relive the nail-biting ride to the surface of Mars. Its goal is to seek out signs of past life on Mars. Mars is today a cold desert, but in the distant past, the Mars Rovers Spirit and Opportunity found overwhelming evidence for liquid water on Mars' surface, with shallow oceans, now gone dry. Did life arise on Mars long ago? We'll learn about how this robotic adventurer will try to answer the question of whether we are alone in the Universe.

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Seeking Life on Mars: Curiosity

July 21, 2012

The Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity, will land on Mars in Gale Crater at 1:30 AM EST on August 6th. It blasted off in Thanksgiving of 2011, and now you'll get a preview of what to expect upon arrival. Its goal is to seek out signs of past life on Mars. Mars is today a cold desert, but in the distant past, the Mars Rovers Spirit and Opportunity found overwhelming evidence for liquid water on Mars' surface, with shallow oceans, now gone dry. Did life arise on Mars long ago? We'll learn about how this robotic adventurer will try to answer the question of whether we are alone in the Universe.

Curiosity: The Mars Science Laboratory | Facebook Event | Meetup Event


Space Camp at the Inwood Library!

August 20, 2011

Launch yourself into a universe of adventure and excitement at the Inwood Library! You.re blasting off into 0uter space! Make fantastic planes that soar on the breeze! Gaze safely on the sun with your own solar telescope! Explore the planets and our galaxy! Prepare yourself for an out of this world time!

Join us in 10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1...
Mission 1: The Sun and Moon! - August 20, 1 to 4 p.m.
Mission 2: The Planets! - August 27, 1 to 4 p.m. (Cancelled due to Hurricane....)

For astronauts between the ages of 10 to 18.

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Solar System Exploration: What's Next?

July 9, 2011

Join me as I talk about 2011's amazing NASA missions. I'll do an overview of the upcoming launch of the Juno mission to Jupiter, marking NASA's return to the King of the Planets. I'll also talk about the arrival of MESSENGER at Mercury, which took place on March 17. I'll also give a preview of the Dawn Mission to the asteroid Vesta, which is the first spacecraft that will orbit two asteroids. (The Vesta Fiesta is coming up in August!) Finally, I'll talk about NASA's flagship mission to Mars: Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory, which will seek out past life on Mars. Join us, it'll be an amazing afternoon and a whirlwind of exciting news!

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Introduction to Astronomy, A Free Natural Science Class Series at the New York Public Library

August 7, September 18 and October 9, 2010

We'll cover a survey of all things astronomical in three sessions. On the first session, we'll learn all about the planets in our Solar System. We'll learn about Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, little Pluto, Comets, Asteroids, and the Kuiper Belt. And we'll learn about the Earth as a planet, too. We'll also talk about the planets found around other stars. What makes up a planet? Which ones have we visited? What is the debate about Pluto? The second session, we'll talk all about stars. We'll learn about the Sun, the closest star, but then we'll branch out and learn about the others. How do they shine? How do they form? How far away are they? How do they live and die? What is a supernova? What are white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes? What is the fate of our Sun? Finally, we'll look at Galaxies. We'll learn about our own Milky Way Galaxy, the band of hazy light that you see from a dark location. We'll also learn about the vastness of cosmic space, and how galaxies grow and change. We'll try to put it all together with the Big Bang, and how galaxies formed, and how the Universe will change and grow in the far distant future.

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The Problem with Pluto

June 5, 2010

Join us for a lively discussion on the discovery of the dwarf planet Pluto, and the huge debate surrounding its demotion from full planethood and the science of the Outer Planets. We'll learn a lot about all the other planets as we strive to understand this one mysterious, icy world at the farthest reaches of the Solar System. We'll also see the latest updates from the New Horizons spacecraft as it continues its long journey to encounter this beguiling body.


Rocket Science: The Current NASA Missions to Mercury, Saturn, Mars, Pluto and The Moon.

November 7 and 14, 2009

We'll look at the astonishing results from the Cassini spacecraft's journey to Saturn. We'll see the pictures from the surface of Titan, and show you how photography is done in space going 20,000 miles per hour. We will see the findings of the Messenger mission to Mercury, and how it stays safe from the Sun as it gathers valuable new knowledge about this secretive planet. We'll see how the marvelous Spirit and Opportunity rovers landed with a bounce on Mars. We'll see how the Phoenix lander touched water ice and what it found while digging in the cold Martian soil. Leaving the cold reaches of Mars' North Pole, we'll revisit the New Horizons mission speeding to Pluto and finally take a look at the latest results from the LCROSS mission's data trying to find water on the Moon.


The Universe in Our Back Yard: The Hubble Space Telescope and the LCROSS Lunar Impact Mission

October 3 and 10, 2009

These two missions are capturing the imaginations of people all over the world. The Hubble Space Telescope was just newly refurbished with its last servicing mission. We will look at what it has learned about the Universe, how it probes of the deepest reaches of the cosmos, and how we interpret its myriad mysterious images. We will also look at the upcoming LCROSS Lunar Impact Mission, due to make a crater on the Moon in search of Water on October 9 of this year! With the return to deep space and the return to the Moon these two missions are shaping our understanding of the universe, and our little neck of the woods. We'll learn about the adventure of these two daring spacecraft, one with a 19 year history of problems and triumph, and one that has a one-way ticket to being a crater on the Moon. We will even take a peek at the next space telescope that will surpass Hubble: The James Webb Space Telescope.


Wild Universe: Black Holes and Gamma-Ray Bursts, Quasars and Neutron Stars.

September 12 and 19, 2009

Our night sky looks peaceful, placid and wondrous, but scientists and astronomers have recently discovered jut how amazingly violent the Universe can be. There are cataclysmic explosions and extreme environments beyond our imaginations. The Chandra X-Ray Telescope, The Hubble Space Telescope, and the Fermi Gamma Ray Telescope all give us pictures of the most violent places in the Cosmos. Come see what happens to stuff near a Black Hole. Learn how supernova explosions create super-dense stars. And see beacons of light so bright that they can be seen literally across the entire Universe.


Powers of Ten: How Big is the Universe, Really?

May 2 and 9, 2009

In the last few decades, the Human Race has ventured to the Moon, and sent spaceships to every planet in the Solar System. We'll talk about the amazing discoveries that have been found; from the water ice on Mars found by Phoenix, to the plumes of Enceladus and the glittering rings of Saturn seen by Cassini, to the hellish surface of Mercury now being explored by Messenger. We'll see the amazing discoveries of the Galileo orbiter at Jupiter, and see what it looks like on the surface of Venus. We'll take you on a tour of the most amazing places that we have sent ever sent spacecraft; all in our little library.


Powers of Ten: How Big is the Universe, Really?

April 11 and 18, 2009

The Universe is really big, and by really big, I mean really really big. Bigger than anything you can imagine, and probably bigger than that too. We will take a journey in space, size and time from our Earth and show the vastness of our Solar System, our local starry neighborhood, the Milky Way, other galaxies, and finish up with the entire Universe. Along the way, we'll learn about how the Universe looked in its infancy, how amazingly it has changed through the eons, and what will happen in the distant future. We will show what we have found at every size scale in the Universe, and we'll even take a peek at the edge of our Cosmic Horizon with the findings from the WMAP and COBE telescopes up in orbit.


Life in the Universe: Is There Anybody Out There?

March 7 and 14, 2009

One of the key questions of all Astronomy is about the question of life in the Universe. We'll talk about the search for evidence of life in our Solar System and why we have focused on Mars. We'll show the amazing results from NASA's Phoenix, Spirit, Opportunity, Pathfinder and Viking missions. We'll also talk about the extreme forms of life on Earth and the ongoing search for biochemistry in our Solar System. We'll also show off the hundreds of newly discovered nearby planetary systems, and how that has affected our perception of life "Out There." We'll see how Life to arose on our planet, and how we could, possibly, one day, travel to the stars.


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