Jason Shilling Kendall: Citizen Astronomer

William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York
Hunter College

Public Lectures at the Stamford Observatory

Part of the Stamford Museum and Nature Center.
39 Scofieldtown Road, Stamford, CT

Coming up...

The Sky

March 1, 2016

Giving a talk again up there!

Betelgeuse, the Supernova that Might

November 6, 2015

The red supergiant star Betelgeuse is prominent in our Winter skies. One day it will explode and illuminate the daytime sky. Come learn more about this amazing star and what the future holds for Earth!

Searching for Planets around other Stars

July 24, 2015

The Kepler Space Telescope has changed everything we know about planets around other stars. There are now over a thousand confirmed such planets. What are they like? How were they found? Will we ever visit them?

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The Summer Triangle: Gateway to the Milky Way

May 29, 2015

Rising in the East at sunset, three bright stars herald the beginning of Summer. These bright stars lie around the Milky Way, and lead us to search for the wonders of the sky with a telescope or binoculars.

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Galaxies and Dark Matter

May 8, 2015

The universe is filled with galaxies, which look wondrous through telescopes. However, lurking unseen is Dark Matter, binding together clusters of galaxies and letting them spin faster than expected. What is Dark Matter, and how do we "see" something that doesn't emit any light?

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Comets and Meteors: Messengers from the Origin of the Solar System

February 27, 2015

It's a detective on the case. When you want to find out how the Solar System began, you have to look for clues in the tiniest and most unlikely of places. We'll learn about comets and meteorites and exactly how they tell us the age of the Earth and Sun.

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Black Holes: the End of Space and Time

January 9, 2015

Black holes have entranced people for decades with the wild name, and bizarre things that people have heard they do. Do they eat planets? Are they a threat to us? Does nothing come out when it goes in? Why are they so small? How do they bend spacetime? What is spacetime? Lots of things here, and you don't want to miss it!

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Pluto, The Battle for a Planet

October 24, 2014

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.

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1609: The Birth of Science. How Galileo Shook the World

July 11, 2014

In 1609, Galileo Galilei looked up at the heavens with a new invention: the telescope. What he saw and how he interpreted it began the modern scientific world. Without his work, humor, arrogance and sacrifice, our world would still be shrouded in mystical darkness.

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The Big Bang, Inflation and Gravitational Waves

May 23, 2014

The science of astronomy has always opened new doors to discovery when a new observing technology is developed. In 1609 Galileo looked to the heavens with the first telescope, beginning what we now call the Scientific Era. In 1931, Karl Jansky viewed the sky in radio waves, seeing the Sun's emission and heralding a new vision of the cosmos. During the Cold War, orbiting gamma-ray treaty-monitoring telescopes detected elusive signals from the deaths of massive stars. Now, in 2015, a new era of observation will commence. It is then that the very first gravitational wave sources will be seen by the LIGO and VIRGO gravitational wave detectors. This completely new area of observation will be able to probe the final milliseconds of colliding black holes, as space-time warps and twists under their violent death-dance. As a neutron star rotates, tiny changes in its crust cause starquakes that would make a nuclear bomb look like a firefly. Even more tantalizing, gravitational waves are thought to be produced during the first moments of the Big Bang. The first detection will open up a new field of discovery, as we listen for the sounds of the ringing universe.

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Astrophotography for Free

February 21, 2014

If you've ever wondered how you can take pictures of the sky, and don't know where to start, then this is a great place to begin. Suitable for kids of all ages, if you bring your laptop or computer, I'll show you how to use free online observatories to take great pictures of the sky.

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Life in the Universe

September 27, 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.


The Big Bang: latest results from Planck

July 12, 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.


Nine Planets, Nine missions. MESSENGER, Venera, Curiosity, Dawn, Galileo, Juno, Cassini, Voyager and New Horizons

June 28, 2013

Join Jason Kendall as he takes us on a whirlwind tour of our Solar System and discusses some of the most important explorations of our local corner of the Galaxy.


Cassini: Mission to Saturn, the Jewel of the Solar System

May 17, 2013

Cassini, the groundbreaking mission to Saturn, has made hundreds of astounding observations of the ringed planet. We'll learn about the most gorgeous planet, reviewing the amazing pictures and the fascinating science. We'll also learn about its collection of moons, including the enigmatic Titan and Enceladus, two moons that hold the possibility of reshaping the way we think about life in our Solar System.

The Hubble Extreme Deep Field Survey

March 15, 2013

Like photographers assembling a portfolio of best shots, astronomers have assembled a new, improved portrait of mankind's deepest-ever view of the universe. Called the eXtreme Deep Field, or XDF, the photo was assembled by combining 10 years of NASA Hubble Space Telescope photographs taken of a patch of sky at the center of the original Hubble Ultra Deep Field. By collecting faint light over many hours of observation, it revealed thousands of galaxies, both nearby and very distant, making it the deepest image of the universe ever taken at that time.

A Tour of the Orion Nebula: How Stars are Born

Februrary 1, 2013

The Orion Nebula has long been a favorite for amateurs and professional stargazers alike. And there's good reason. It's a birthplace of stars. We'll learn how stars are born, and the amazing things that have been seen using Hubble's clear eye on this beautiful and iconic nebula.


Curiosity on Mars

November 9, 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 with the water now hidden deep in the rocks. Did life arise on Mars long ago? We'll learn about how this robotic adventurer is trying to help us answer the most important question of all.

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The Universe is 13.67 Billion Years Old

July 27, 2012

How do we know how old the Universe is? What was it like at the beginning? What was before the Big Bang? Jason Kendall will show you how we know this amazing thing, using images from the Hubble Space Telescope, WMAP, COBE, BLAST, ALMA and other major space tesecopes. We'll also see what scientists hope to learn about our Universe when it was a baby by using the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope.

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NuSTAR's Wild Universe: Supernovae and Black Holes

May 25, 2012

Black holes, neutron stars, white dwarf and supernovae. What is going on?

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The Kepler Space Telecope: Seeking New Worlds

January 20, 2012

NASA's Kepler Space Telescope has spent the last 3 years seeking out Earth-like planets around far away Sun-like stars. Not only has it confirmed 21 planets in its view, but has released a list of 1,235 other candidates. As this remarkable mission continues, it is revolutionizing our understanding of stars and how planets form in our galaxy. It's even just found a planet orbiting two stars!

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Curiosity: The Mars Science Laboratory: Seeking Life on Mars

October 7, 2011

NASA's next big mission to Mars, the Mars Science Laboratory, christened "Curiosity" blasts off in Thanksgiving of this year. 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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William Paterson University Department of Physics American Astronomical Society Amateur Astronomers Association of New York Astronomical Society of the Pacific