The universe has been expanding and changing since its birth at the Big Bang. In March of this year, the most distant, and therefore the furthest back in time, galaxy was discovered, which gives us its light from about 400 million years after the beginning of time. This discovery is likely the greatest achievement that can be done with the Hubble Space Telescope. Its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, to be launched in late 2018 will surpass this, hopefully showing us the light of the first stars. As it stands, this discovery demands explanation: What is the expansion of the Universe? How do we know it's occurring? How can we actually make these measurements with confidence? Our ability to know how far back in time we're seeing relies on a Cosmic Distance Ladder, culminating in the calibration of the measuring sticks of space and time itself. Come see how we start from the measuring the distance between Earth and Venus using radar to perceiving the stretching of the fabric of space and time itself over the entire cosmos.
Jason Kendall is adjunct faculty at Hunter College and William Paterson University. He holds a Masters of Science in Astronomy from New Mexico State University in the field of general relativity and cosmology. He also holds a Master of Fine Arts in Theater from the University of Texas at Austin. His day job is with BGC Partners/Cantor-Fitzgerald, where he was critical in rebuilding his company following the disaster of September 11, 2001. This event changed Jason's life trajectory. Using this unique combination of talents and background, Jason has become the pre-emeninent Education and Public Outreach specialist in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut region, giving numerous public talks on astronomy and physics. His work in EPO was an integral part of the IYA2009 effort, where he did 60 events in one year, including managing the only event in the history of NYC Parks where lights were turned off in a major park for astronomy. He's used his astronomy EPO to assist with women's safety and crime reduction in NYC Parks. As a Board member of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York, Jason has helped thousands of New Yorkers experience the wonder of the dark night sky. On the national scale, he was a regular guest on the Weather Channel's "Wake Up with Al" and is frequently heard on FOX5 NY, WCBS, and on WNYC's "The Takeaway". His EPO work has also been the subject of three New York Times articles. His research areas are in the development of educational materials to be used for introductory astronomy coursework, with special emphasis on using actual data to demonstrate the circuitous path that science takes in its search for how Nature works.