06/30/1997 07:00:00

Big Bear Observatory Telescopes and Dome To Be Named In Honor of Longtime Director Hal Zirin

PASADENA—Renowned solar astronomer Harold Zirin will be honored Wednesday when the solar telescopes and dome at Big Bear Solar Observatory are named for him.

The ceremony, set for 11 a.m. Wednesday, July 2, at the observatory near Big Bear City, Calif., also marks the official transfer of operations of the observatory management from the California Institute of Technology to the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Zirin, a longtime member of the astrophysics faculty at Caltech, has been the sole director of the facility since its founding in 1969.

"Hal Zirin's achievements in solar physics are recognized throughout the world," says Philip R. Goode, director of the Center for Solar Research at NJIT, in a special resolution. "It is fitting for his friends and associates to express deep admiration and respect for him as a scholar, a teacher, and a colleague."

Goode, the new director of Big Bear Solar Observatory, also said that, based on BBSO observations, Zirin had established BearAlerts, a service for forecasting solar activity and issuing flare warnings. Solar flares, if sufficiently powerful, can cause communication satellites to malfunction and can also cause electrical disturbances on Earth.

Zirin, a member of the Caltech faculty since 1963, is a leading authority on solar flares. He discovered the role of emerging flux regions in rearranging magnetic fields and triggering solar flares, as well as the role of delta sunspots in producing solar flares. He also established a chromosphere atmospheric reference model for the study of the solar atmosphere.

Speakers at the Wednesday ceremony, in addition to Zirin and Goode, will include Dr. Thomas E. Everhart, president of Caltech; and Saul K. Fenster, president of NJIT. The media are invited. For directions and to schedule tours of the facilities, please call in advance.