Astronomer Alan Hale to Kick Off Caverns' Star Party
Contact: Bridget Litten, 505.785.3024
Through the efforts of Carlsbad resident Jeff Diamond and BatFest! International, astronomer Alan Hale, best known as the co-discoverer of comet Hale-Bopp, will be the opening speaker at Carlsbad Caverns National Park’s Celebration of the Night, on Friday, July 28. Dr. Hale’s presentation will focus on his current activities as the founder of the Southwest Institute for Space Research and the creator of the Earthrise Project.
Earthrise envisions a globally-interconnected network of astronomical educational and research centers that will offer a variety of astronomical and space-related activities for students of all ages and levels. The ultimate goal is the development of international and intercultural collaborations through astronomy.
A New Mexico resident for most of his life, Dr. Hale graduated from Alamogordo High School and earned his Masters and Ph.D. from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. He was involved with Voyager 2’s mission while working for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and has served as the staff astronomer and outreach education coordinator for The Space Center (now the New Mexico Museum of Space History.) His current research interests include searching for planets beyond the solar system, comets and near-Earth asteroids, as well as advocacy of spaceflight.
Celebration of the Night is an overnight astronomy event featuring a walking tour of the solar system, a green laser tour of the heavens, legends and lore of the night, and two desert night hikes. Astronomers from Texas and New Mexico will be participating this year. The Celebration will end just as the park’s annual Bat Flight Breakfast begins. After the park events, everyone is invited to join in on the events in the city of Carlsbad’s BatFest! International.
Reservations are not accepted for the Celebration of the Night or the Bat Flight Breakfast. Astronomers planning to bring telescopes or other equipment to the star party should contact Shannan Marcak at 505.785.3134.
For Bat Flight Breakfast information, contact Avelina Childress at 505.785.3124 or Bridget Litten at 505.785.3024, or visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/cave/.
For more information on BatFest! International, contact Meg Milligan at 505.885.9041 or visit www.batfest.org.
Did You Know?
Most of the formations—or speleothems—found inside Carlsbad Cavern today were active and growing during the last ice age when instead of having a desert above the cave, there were pine forests.