THE GATEKEEPER Astra is Dawn E. Jenkins

I have always been interested in astronomy and space. As a child, my brothers and I rediscovered Saturn using a small telescope. As a young adult, I joined the Astronomy Book Club and subscribed to Astronomy magazine. A few years later, that I began to observe the stars through amateur equipment. I had decided borrow a friend's binoculars to observe the moon. In just a few minutes, I was hooked!

For many years, I worked at NASA John H. Glenn Research Center under contract. I worked as a Budget Analyst supporting Science and Technology projects. I've also tracked budgets for Space Operation Project Office for the Shuttle and International Space Station projects. I've also supported thePower and Propulsion Division, the Diversity Office, and the Office of the Chief Engineer. For five years, I worked full time as an outreach co-ordinator. This worked covered public, educational, technical and internal outreach and I sometimes staffed exhibits at various conferences and events across the country. My first permanent assignment at Glenn,I supported the Microgravity Science Division with my computer skills at graphics, web development and editing as well as assisting with administrative support in the Fluid Physics area. I was the lead developer for the Fluid Physics Website that featured NASA Glenn's contribution to space experiments conducted in microgravity. For 5 years, I served as a volunteer advisor to Explorer Post 633 (Human Space Flight): at NASA Glenn. For this after school program, I focused on astronomy and also wrote a Mars Mission for students that we used for three years and transitioned into a Space Station program during the last year.

Although my busy schedule keeps me from spending lots of time in the field, I can never resist an opposition of Mars so that whenever we start to glide past that pale orange dot, I'm glued to the tube. I keep track of the moon, planets and stars, by looking up every chance I get. And no clear lunar eclipse can ever pass without attracting my attention. I regularly view the International Space Station when it makes passes over Cleveland. As a Girl Scout Volunteer, I support local astronomy and space programs. On another astronomy trip, when I traveled to the Enchanted Skies Star Party in Sicorro, NM. We observed from 10,000 feet atop Mt. South Baldy and visited the Very Large Array at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory on a tour sponsored by New Mexico Tech Astronomy Club. In 2012, my husband and I traveled to to Hawaii to get a better glimpse of the transit of Venus than was available from my hometown in Cleveland, OH.

For many years, I was a member of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association. What I liked best about the club is that the more experienced observers help newcomers to get involved with the sky. I have held board positions including President and Treasurer. I have also been the Observations Director and the club Historian. I have given various talks and public programs, on the topics of general astronomy, comets, telescopes, Caroline Herschel, women astronomers, orbiting observatories, binocular observing, cold weather gear and Maya astronomy. At the end of 2004, family duties and work obligations caused me to give up my membership. If you are interested in the Association, you can click the link here to visit their home page.

For 15 years, I served on the Three-Member Council that directs the Ohio Turnpike Astronomer's Association. The OTAA is a consortium of amateur astronomy clubs organized to unite the amateur astronomy clubs of Ohio and to support astronomy education. There are currently 12 member clubs. We published a newsletter, "The Asteroid Belt," that served to connect our scattered clubs. I began writing astronomy articles for "The Asteroid Belt"and eventually became the Editor, a position I held for 5 years.

I ground my first telescope mirror, a 6-inch f/9.6. My husband and I mounted it in a tube and put it on a Celestron equatorial mount. One of the images in my Flash gallery above shows me with this first instrument when I travelled to Baja California to view a total solar eclipse. Of course, all astronomers go barefoot in Baja! Later, I ground a 12-1/2" mirror that I mounted in a special type of altazimuth mount, my own modification of a telescope designed by Thane Bopp. There is also an image of me grinding the mirror in the gallery above. This telescope won two awards from the Astronomical League at the Richland Astronomical Society convention held in Mansfield Ohio.

I have been working for some time on a book describing the accomplishments of women in the field of astronomy. I believe that women have always contributed a vital part in the story of human history as witnessed by the fact that most of our early accomplishments have been attributed to women including agriculture, pottery, weaving and, yes, even toolmaking!

I began to study the ancient astronomers and have incorporated this into the Stargate. I am very much an observational astronomer and I have a great respect for the deep insight the Maya and others in Mesoamerica gained from their centuries of observation.

My interest interest in space exploration began at an early age. As a result I have supported space exploration and development, I have served on conference committees, written articles and helped to put on Space Week activities. As a member of the Midwest Space Development Corporation, I have helped to plan regional space conferences. Our committee brought the National Space Society's International Space Development Conference to Cleveland, Ohio.

All Users are Welcome to Astra's Star Gate on the World Wide Web!

Links to my non-astronomical interests can be found HERE

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Beam me back, Astra!

This page was modified on 07/01/2015