SOCORRO - Daniel A. Klinglesmith III, an astronomer affiliated with New Mexico Tech's Magdalena Ridge Observatory, has loved astronomy since he was a child. His life-long interest was sparked when he first watched Venus travel through the night sky. His father told him that it was a planet, explained why it moved, and bought him an astronomy book of constellations. He was hooked.
After graduating high school, Klinglesmith studied physics at St. Louis University and received his bachelor of science degree in 1961. Three years later, he received his master of science degree in astronomy, and three years after that, his Ph.D. in astrophysics -- both from Indiana University. His Ph.D. thesis focused on helium stars, stars that are burning helium rather than hydrogen.
Klinglesmith then went on to spend 30-year career at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, located in a Maryland suburb outside of Washington, D.C. While at NASA, he computed model stellar atmospheres, worked on the data reduction techniques for the International Ultraviolet Explorer Satellite, developed NASA Goddard's image processing computer facility, and worked on the International Haley Watch.
In 1987, while working at New Mexico Tech's Joint Observatory for Cometary Research, Klinglesmith was contemplating something to do on cloudy nights, and a friend suggested weaving. Klinglesmith borrowed a loom and began weaving his first of many tapestries. After returning to his home in Maryland, he entered his tapestries at the county fair and won first place.
After retiring from NASA Goddard in 1996, Klinglesmith moved to New Mexico, bringing his passions for both astronomy and weaving with him. He soon became actively involved with the New Mexico Tech Astronomy Club and started teaching an astronomy laboratory class at the prestigious science and engineering research university.
Klinglesmith is currently a member of The Tapestry Study Group, which is composed of members of Las Aranas Spinners and Weavers Guild. They are a small group of weavers who meet regularly to study and receive constructive criticism and support. Klinglesmith says he and the group are very energetic about their art and hope to share that enthusiasm with others. Klinglesmith also studies and teaches weaving techniques at the famous Ghost Ranch near Abiqui, New Mexico. He weaves both Navajo-style and contemporary tapestries.
Klinglesmith's favorite tapestry is his "My Compliments to You," which features a wave of vibrant colors. He explains that it only contains twelve individual colors, but that they blend together to form 48 different combinations-the full light spectrum. There two different bands of color that meet in the middle of the wave. He made sure that there were complementary colors next to each other.
Some of his other works include "Summer and Fall" and "Winter and Spring" tapestries. They are two large black canvases containing the zodiacal constellations, with every star is in its correct place in the tapestry sky, and of appropriate magnitude. These tapestries are a marriage between Klinglesmith's love of astronomy and his passion for weaving.