Under the brilliancy of an unclouded afternoon, members of all three Arizona JASNA chapters were fortunate to attend a presentation provided by James Ashley, a postdoctoral fellow at the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera Science Operations Center of Arizona State University.  Inside the beautiful Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix, members sipped and nibbled on light refreshments while their minds were blasted into areas beyond their time and reach.

Dr.  Ashley read aloud sections of Mansfield Park where Jane Austen made reference to nature, the stars and sky, bringing about a new sense of awareness to readers of the knowledge and understanding that Jane must have had of the natural world and beyond.  This awareness begged such questions as “Who were the astronomers of Jane’s time?” and “Did she learn of them during her years in Bath?” Or “Did her brothers who served in the Navy bring this information and appreciation to the Austen home when they wrote and visited?”

In addition to this new-found connection and appreciation, attendees were afforded an excellent opportunity to learn about the latest space discovery, see awe inspiring images of the universe, and hear about the “next-steps” of space and moon exploration in the near future.  Dr. Ashley’s presentation left attendees feeling more closely connected to the natural world and universe they are a part of, and a desire to reread Austen’s works all over again searching for other references to Jane’s perception of night’s sky.

Greater Phoenix Regional Coordinator, Diane Gorham extends a resounding thank you to Dr. Ashley for his time and vast knowledge and to Lynda Hilton, Paula Heil, Kate Henderson, Sherry Moore and Becky Lenhardt for providing the coordination and refreshments for the event. 

~   Kate Henderson