Jason Kendall
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

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Night on Mars: Curiosity Landing Party

A Public Event at William Paterson University
Sunday, August 5, 2012, 6:00 PM until 2:00 AM EST.
William Paterson University

Free admission.

This presentation is suitable for the general public, and kids over 12. We'll provide free posters and handouts from NASA.

The Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity, will land on Mars at 1:30 AM EST on August 6th. Come on out to Wayne, New Jersey to celebrate and learn in style! Hosted by NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador Jason Kendall and the Department of Physics at William Paterson University, we'll have a public talk about the search for life on Mars. We'll also do fun hands-on activities, such as building Mars landers, walking through a human orrery, looking through spectroscopes, and possibly stargazing with the University's telescopes. As the evening goes on, we'll also watch "Roving Mars" the iMax movie about the little Mars rovers that could, and just before the live NASA coverage, we'll watch the 1953 "War of the Worlds". Bring your PJ's. We'll serve the pizza. It's all free and open to the public, at Science Hall East on the campus of William Paterson University.

NASA's next big mission to Mars, the Mars Science Laboratory, christened "Curiosity" blasted off in Thanksgiving of 2011. 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.

Schedule of Events

  • 6:00 PM: Greeting and NASA News Conference Broadcast Live.
  • 7:00 PM: Public talk on Mars Exploration and the Search for Life with Curiosity by Jason Kendall.
  • 8:00 PM: Performance of the official song of the International Year of Astronomy, Up Up Up in the Sky by award-winning composer Donna Stearns. Sung by Megan Marod.
  • 8:05 PM: Andrew Kessler, author of Martian Summer: Robot Arms, Space Cowboys, and My 90 Days with the Phoenix Mars Mission, will chat about his experiences and be on hand for signing.
  • 8:30 - 9:30 PM: Activities for adults and kids. We'll need some Adjuncts and energized Intro students or Juniors/Seniors or Physics Minors to participate.
    • Stargazing if it is clear out on the football field. We'll use the telescopes in the Lab or have amateur astronomers show up and provide equipment.
    • Indoors: Physics demonstrations and hands-on activities, suitable for kids and adults.
  • 9:40 PM: Public showing of Roving Mars. The story of Spirit and Opportunity.
  • 10:30 PM: Public showing of War of the Worlds 1953 version. (90 mins)
  • Midnight: Begin NASA coverage begins the EDL.
  • 1:30 AM: Time of Entry, Descent and Landing, covered LIVE!
  • 2:15 AM: NASA Post-Landing Press conference: LIVE.

Map for the location Click here to open in Google Maps.

Science Hall East, WPU in a larger map


From Highway 80 in New Jersey, going West away from New York City, take exit 53 to Wayne/Bulter/Verona. Follow 23 North to Butler. Follow 23 North to Alps Road exit on the right. Go on Alps Road for a couple of miles until you get to a major instersection and take a right on Ratzer Road. When you get to Hamburg Turnpike, cross it towards the university. There is a good pizza spot right at this intersection. The road immediately veers right, and goes around the campus perimeter. Take a left on East Road, "Entrance 1", and follow it up to the parking area.

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

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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