• Len Beadell Publications

VALE CAROLYN SHOEMAKER 24.06.29 - 13.08.21




PHOTO At the Grand Canyon - 16 October 1986

Rear L to R - Anne Beadell, Gene & Carolyn Shoemaker, Connie Beadell

Front - Helen & Dick Prinster

Photo taken by Len Beadell


We would like to pass on our sincere condolences to the family of Carolyn Shoemaker who died on the 13th August 2021 aged 92. She was a noted discoverer of hundreds of asteroids and 32 comets, including the famous Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet that collided with Jupiter in 1994. One of her asteroid discoveries in 1980 at the Palomar Observatory in California she named after Len Beadell, subsequently named 3161 Beadell.


Carolyn Jean Spellmann was born in 1929 in New Mexico and her university studies included geology in California. It was a subject that apparently did not peak her interest until she met an enthusiastic young geologist called Gene Shoemaker. His passion for the subject included organising & training NASA astronauts for geological experiments on the moon. He was also the one to introduce Carolyn to a new program to search for asteroids that could potentially threaten Earth, a subject about which she excelled. She also accompanied Gene on many trips to Australia to study meteorite impact craters, visiting Len Beadell & his family at home in Salisbury, South Australia in 1986 to glean more information about impacts along Len's outback road network, including Veevers Crater east of the Gary Highway (Gene & Carolyn gave Connie a scientific paper about Veevers in 1990 to place in a box at the site).


On a visit to the USA a few months later, Len, Anne & Connie stayed with Gene & Carolyn at Flagstaff, Arizona, in their magnificent home with a huge glass window overlooking a stunning vast vista of pine trees and mountains. Gene & Carolyn then took us for a trip to the Grand Canyon, taking us to a spot not visited by tourists. Gene stopped the car and told us to get out and walk over to see the view; from our angle in the car we couldn't see a thing, just a flat plain. It was a moment that I am sure he replayed over and again to unsuspecting visitors! His technical explanation of the formation of the Canyon went over our heads but it was interesting nonetheless!


They were both award winning in their pursuits, including for Carolyn an honorary doctorate from the Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff in 1990. Gene's tragic death in a car accident in Australia in 1997 during one of their crater explorations was devastating. Carolyn was severely injured but survived to continue her observing work for a few more years. Carolyn and Gene will be long remembered in the geological and astronomy world and the Beadell family feel privileged to have known them.


Connie Beadell, 4 September 2021


Carolyn Shoemaker

Photo courtesy of Wendee Levy


References - https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/remembering-carolyn-shoemaker-1929-2021/

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