CLOUDCROFT, NEW MEXICO. Dr. Alan Hale, co-discoverer of Comet Hale-Bopp which shone in our nighttime skies eight years ago, is announcing a fundraising campaign to help develop an astronomical educational facility at a location immediately adjacent to the site from which he made his discovery. The project, called Earthrise, is eventually planned to contain several telescopes of various sizes and to be able to host students for a variety of astronomical activities. In addition to its on-site capability, the telescopes at Earthrise are also planned for utilization in a remote-control capacity.

Hale notes, however, that the purpose of Earthrise is more than just education. “During my travels in recent years it has become quite clear to me that astronomy can be a very useful tool for breaking down international and intercultural barriers,” he remarks. Along these lines, Hale envisions Earthrise as being the nexus of an eventual global network of facilities that will encourage its participating students to form international collaborations for projects and grow to see each other as colleagues and friends. Hale notes that it was his experiences in his recent astronomy-related travels, including two visits to Iran in 1999 and 2000 to view a total solar eclipse and to participate in an international scientific conference, that to a large degree inspired him to begin developing Earthrise. “I still stay in regular contact with the friends I made in Iran during my visits to that country,” he says, adding that “I hope that our example of friendship and cooperation will inspire future participants of Earthrise to form their own international collaborations.”

Two years ago the Southwest Institute for Space Research, of which Hale is Director, conducted an initial fundraising campaign that was designed to help Earthrise get started. As a result of that campaign, in 2004 the Institute was able to take out a loan for the purchase of the property at the Earthrise site.

With that goal accomplished, Hale and the Southwest Institute are now announcing a new fundraising campaign. The specific goals of this campaign are paying off the property loan ($40,000 which will pay it off in full) and the initial development of the property to the point where initial activities can commence. The Institute already owns the first telescope to be located at the Earthrise site, and with sufficient funding Hale hopes to have this telescope available for use by participating students by the end of 2005.

In conjunction with this campaign, the Southwest Institute is selling various astronomy-related items, including autographed copies of Hale’s book “Everybody’s Comet: A Layman’s Guide to Comet Hale-Bopp;” an e-book, “In Our Skies,” that contains on CD-ROM a complete set of the weekly astronomy columns that Hale has been writing for the past ten years; and autographed photos of Majel Barrett (wife of “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry), who graciously donated these to the Institute for fundraising purposes. These and other items are available for purchase for $20 each through the Institute’s web site,, and all proceeds from the sales will go towards Earthrise.

All contributors of $100 or more will be acknowledged as “Earthrise Founding Contributors” and will be listed as such on the Institute’s web page and on a plaque to be erected at the Earthrise site.

Additional information about Earthrise, including daytime and nighttime photographs of the Earthrise site and a description of some of the astronomical activities that will be conducted there once the site is operational, can be found at

Hale notes, incidentally, that this coming July 23 marks the 10-year anniversary of the Hale-Bopp discovery, and that he is in the process of planning an event to celebrate the occasion, which will be in part a fundraising event for Earthrise. Information about this event is available at, which will be updated as plans are finalized and guests are confirmed.