Around OCA for February, 2006

Posted On January 29, 2006


By Barbara Toy


Well, the New Year’s Eve star party at Anza didn’t happen, after all -ììì too bad, as it would have been a great way to kick off 2006.  But weather intervened, and pretty intense weather at that, as shown by the fact that the wind blew the moving roof off Dave Kodama’s observatory (fortunately, not much more than the roof itself was damaged).  On the brighter side, we had a really good turnout of both people who needed help and of volunteers to help them at the “How to Use Your Telescope” class on January 6, which was a great way to kick off our outreach activities for the new year.


I hope all of you had really great holiday seasons, and that 2006 has gotten off to a good start for all of you!


2006 Board Election -ììì


The election for the 2006 Board is now behind us, along with a very entertaining (and informative) Astronomy Jeopardy game at our January meeting, thanks to the efforts of Craig Bobchin and Matt Ota.  Hopefully you’ve all seen a formal announcement of the new Board by now, but, just in case you missed the election results, the 2006 Board is:


President:                    Barbara Toy

Vice President:           Craig Bobchin

Secretary:                   Bob Buchheim

Treasurer:                  Charlie Oostdyk



                                   Gary Schones

                                   Steve Short

                                   Tom Kucharski

                                   Matt Ota

                                   Alan Smallbone

                                   Leon Aslan

                                   Steve Condrey

It’s always a pleasure to welcome new people to the Board, and having new people join the Board every year is healthy for both the Board and the club.  However, this also means that we have to say goodbye to some of our past members each year, and that’s always sad.  This year, the members of the 2005 Board who won’t be returning in 2006 are Tony Obra, Bill Hepner, Paul Brewer, and, of course, Dave Radosevich.  I’ve had the pleasure of knowing them all for several years, and I’d like to take this opportunity to say a few words of appreciation about them.


Tony Obra


Tony has been an OCA Trustee for many years, and I first met him when I joined the Board in 2001.  Among his many activities at the time was working with one of the teachers in the LAUSD who regularly brought his classes out to Anza for astronomy field trips.  My first attempt to go to our Anza site was to join Tony, this teacher (whose name, interestingly enough for OCA long-timers, was Wayne Johnson), and several others for one of these field trips -ììì it took a lot longer to get there than I’d expected, and I got thoroughly confused on the dirt roads, so I never did make it to the site on that trip, to my lasting regret.  I did make it to one of Mr. Johnson’s later field trips, and found the students to be an impressive bunch -ììì and Tony’s pleasure at working with them helped make the event memorable.


In the days before the needs of his family and work pressures seriously limited the time he had available for astronomy, Tony was involved in a lot of outreach activities, and also had pretty strong ties to Mt. Wilson.  As one result of his Mt. Wilson activities, he was able to get us the observatory building that now houses the Mocat telescope near Anza House when it was decommissioned at Mt. Wilson.  On the more local level, even when he hasn’t been able to stay and do any observing himself as a reward for his hard work, Tony has regularly shown up with a large truck to help out on Anza clean-up days.  The truck and Tony have both been a lot less available this last year than before, which, for anyone who might have doubted it, proved just how helpful they have been in years past.


One of the things that I appreciated about Tony when we served together on the Board was his ability to take in information from the general discussion of a particular issue, then ask what often seemed to be a simple question that went to the true heart of the matter.  In particular, in the period after the Kuhn’s drive system burned out a few years ago, John Hoot found the burned-out circuit board for the control system and determined that the damage was too extensive to attempt repair, and we were all discussing what should be done to get the Kuhn back into operation.  After taking in a lot of discussion without comment, Tony asked a very basic question that we discovered we didn’t have the information at the time to answer fully -ììì which was what actually caused the circuit board to burn out.  Dave Radosevich finally provided the answer to that question after he evaluated the telescope as a whole, and his answer went to the heart of the repairs -ììì basically, “delayed maintenance” had caught up with us, and a combination of worn gears, dirt in the gears, improper balance, and similar issues ultimately made it so hard to drive the Kuhn that it was only a matter of time before it failed.  Tony’s simple question and the discussion that followed redirected our focus, and helped us realize that the scope had deeper problems than just a failed circuit board, so we were better prepared when Dave brought us his findings and recommendations for a complete overhaul of the telescope.


Tony’s been increasingly tied up with responsibilities in other parts of his life over the last few years, and hopefully having a period without Board responsibilities will free up some of his time so he can indulge in other aspects of our hobby -ììì though we’ll miss him on the Board.


Bill Hepner


Although I had seen him at outreaches before, I first got to know Bill when we were part of a group that stuck around to chat after an outreach at a school in Trabucco Canyon (where it was incredibly dark for Orange County).  That was the first of many interesting conversations I’ve had with Bill over the last four or five years -ììì he’s been actively involved in different aspects of astronomy for over thirty years, and has done many different types of public education in astronomy over the years he’s been involved in the hobby, so he has a lot of knowledge to draw on and experiences to share.  I’m one of many who have learned a lot from him -ììì and I have him to thank for showing me how to convert my original ETX90 to a “goto” scope, and for making that transformation possible. 


I didn’t have the pleasure of serving on the Board with Bill, but I know that he approached his position as Trustee this last year with as much dedication as he gives his ongoing outreach activities and his other club activities.  Among other things, he has had a particular interest in making at least some of our facilities out at Anza more accessible to people with physical impairments, which is one of my own goals.  Even though he won’t be on the Board as a Trustee in 2006, I hope to draw on his knowledge and insight in that area to continue to improve access to our facilities for all of our members.


P aul Brewer