kookaburraThe Kookaburra is a popular Australian bird made famous in song. Although they are in the kingfisher family of birds, their diet consists mainly of insects, mice, snakes and other small reptiles, as well as the young of other birds. (Photo by G. Emerson)The May 3 monthly program of SWNM Audubon will feature a presentation on Birds of Australia by Gary Emerson. Gary is a birder, astronomer and systems engineer, who lived in Australia for several years but makes Silver City his home now. The meeting begins at 7 PM in Harlan Hall room 219, on the WNMU campus at 12 thand Alabama.

Gary was very fortunate to have grown up in the Ozark Hills of Northern Arkansas with an amateur naturalist grandfather who knew everything that grew, crawled, flew or swam in the woods. As soon as Gary could walk, he would accompany his grandfather and he soon started learning and enjoying nature and birds.

During a 40-plus year career, Gary worked in astronomy and space science. In astronomy he worked on a NASA contract as a Lunar Observer, making observations of the Moon. He was a solar observer for the High-Altitude Observatory, studying sunspots, and was a research associate for the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics assisting in rocket launches to study a supernova and comets. At his private observatory southwest of Boulder, Colorado, he discovered the only asteroid discovered from the state of Colorado.

While working at the University of Colorado and Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Gary worked on spacecraft that have gone to every planet in the solar system except Mercury. He worked on the focal-plane assembly for the Kepler spacecraft that found thousands of planets around other stars. He never regretted going to work a single day in his career. 

The program is free and open to the public. Light refreshments follow. For additional information, send an email to swnmaudubon@gmail.com.