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Posts Tagged ‘Jason Kendall’

By Daniel P. Tucker

On Friday night, a new tool will be used to fight crime in Inwood Hill Park: a $12,000 telescope. Following a string of sexual assaults in the area, the urban astronomer Jason Kendall will mix stargazing with discussions on community safety in what he’s calling “Take Back the Park” nights.

“The park is there for the community. It’s our park,” said Kendall, adding that he did not want Inwood to cede the park to drug dealers, prostitutes, or criminals. “You got to use the park or lose it.”

Kendall rebranded his sky-watching tours as Take Back the Park nights after a 28-year-old woman was sexually assaulted in the park near the ballfields where he sets up his six-foot-tall telescope. The assault was one of three attacks in the neighborhood on June 10 and 11.

The astronomer said a telescope puts most anyone at ease, including a group of tattooed men in muscle shirts he recently encountered in the park late at night.

“All of a sudden they go, ‘Wow, this is really cool,’ and they call up a bunch of people and go, ‘That’s Saturn, I’ve never seen the rings before,'” he said.

Kendall’s first “Take Back the Park” event last week drew about 100 people — a cross-section of the neighborhood that included more women than had been attending. Theater professional Clara Barton Green talked to the dozen or so teens and men and women in their 20s, 30s and 40s, some of whom were examining Saturn and the moon last week.

Read more: Fighting Crime with Astronomy at Inwood Hill Park – WNYC Culture.

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This video is provided by Scienceline, a project of New York University’s Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program.

Looking up to look within

By Joseph Castro | Video by Sarah Fecht and Joseph Castro

When you walk through the forest of Inwood Hill Park at night, it’s easy to forget you’re in New York City. Rather than the scent of exhaust mingled with the aroma of fresh pizza, you smell the trees and the soil. Instead of the sounds of honking horns and talkative pedestrians, you hear a symphony of birds and insects. Most of all, in place of dazzling city lights, you see the twinkling stars above, making the park the premiere location for amateur astronomy in Manhattan.

And every Saturday night, you’re sure to find Jason Kendall there with his telescopes, waiting for curious passersby to join him in a stargazing adventure.

Kendall is the director of the Inwood Astronomy Project, based in the Inwood neighborhood on Manhattan’s northern tip. He founded the project three years ago to bring astronomy to the local community and anyone else interested. Kendall is well known around Inwood, and his Saturday night stargazing events draw anywhere from a few to a few hundred people, some traveling from other areas in the city or even from neighboring states.

“There’s a sense of security in knowing that he’ll always be there,” said Jordan Kushner of New York City’s Amateur Astronomy Association, of which Kendall is a board member. “[It] really makes a difference to people.”

A native of Mankato, Minnesota, Kendall, 42, got hooked on astronomy in fourth grade when he saw the rings of Saturn through a telescope for the first time. “It kind of sticks with you,” he explained. Following his passion, Kendall went on to earn bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and astronomy from Mankato State University and a master’s degree in astronomy from New Mexico State University.

With his Inwood project, Kendall hopes to give people — children especially — the same opportunities to see the universe that he had as a child. And he doesn’t really care whether or not the kids go on to become astronomers. “It’s just simply opening a wedge for them so that life can be bigger than they think it is,” he said.

Read more: http://www.scienceline.org/2011/01/looking-up-to-look-within/

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