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Hale-Bopp CometNow that 2011 is drawing to a close I have been reflecting on 2010. I think about what I have accomplished, writing this series of articles has been an accomplishment. I am grateful to you readers and to those of you who have told me you read my column. Your words give me confidence and drive to do a better job in the coming year.

 In my first column, I suggested people in our community know more about the space industry than we give ourselves credit for. End-of-year update: I gave away all twenty five books on the future of air and space travel offered in my column a month ago. That's one way our community stays current and informed. We read. We not only have people interested in the space industry and willing to grow their knowledge, but we also have an extraordinary community of scholars in our midst. I will tell you about one scholar.

 At a Christmas party, a neighbor told me about his current life's work. He built an astronomical observatory and attached it to his house. He is interested in learning about asteroids in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter. He works at his own pace, on his own dime. His purpose is to learn about these celestial bodies, some of which are considered minor planets. While adding to his own knowledge, he also seeks to add to mankind's knowledge about this group of heavenly bodies.  His findings have been published in numerous scholarly journals, but that is not why he observes and shares his knowledge. He does it because he loves it and adding to the human body of knowledge gives his life joy and meaning.Alan Hale, the co - discoverer of the Hale-Bopp comet speaking at a education launch at Spaceport America

Our clear skies in New Mexico provided Alan Hale, the co - discoverer of the Hale-Bopp comet, his life changing opportunity. He was observing on his own time on his own dime too.   He is still very involved in giving back to his state. He is a graduate of New Mexico State University Astronomy Program. I am proud to say New Mexico Space Grant provided Alan a graduate fellowship during his Ph.D program. Alan comes to all our student launches at the spaceport and he always makes himself available to speak to the students.

 We are now preparing for our next launch. We will have 33 experiments flying from Spaceport America on April 1, 2011. Most will be built by middle school students and teachers with help from volunteers. Members of the community are welcome to join us. And as I get the logistics finalized, I will tell you how to sign up to come out to the launch.

So many of us have worked to make Las Cruces and New Mexico a better place to live. Keep it up. I will too. You know all the little thing we do add up. The economic impact of recycling may not show up on any year end reports, the Pink Campaign will likely be ignored by Wall Street, and the Mariachi Conference won't make it onto Entertainment Tonight. Let's keep recycling anyway, let's support our community's health, and let's keep the music coming, after all, it's never been between anyone else but you and me. I'm with you, let's keep going and challenge 2011 to be an improvement on 2010.


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