Presidents Message – April 2001

Posted On April 1, 2001

What a wonderful club!

In this April letter I feel compelled to highlight some of my own recent experiences with the club and to share with you my view of it's impact on our local community and the people in it, and on other astronomy enthusiasts in other parts of the country and even the rest of the world.

So much has happened in March already - and as I write this letter - I still have nearly half the month left. Time flies when you are having fun!

Let's start with the March OCA meeting. Apart from a fantastic what's up presentation by Chris Butler - and a superb speaker from Sky & Telescope in the form of their Editor-in-chief Rick Fienberg - we also had the conclusion of the Grand Raffle. What an exciting time we had.

If you stuck around for the Raffle drawing you will know that all the prizes went to various lucky attendees - with just one ending up going to a person who was not present at the meeting (remember you did not have to be present to win). The grand prize, donated by AstronomyQuest of Irvine, of the Celestron 80GT Computerized telescope ended up going to a very happy OCA member. I am sure that now our weather has cleared up that telescope has already seen "First Light".

Talking of first light - I wanted to share with you another experience which I took part in at the last weekend. I happened to be invited out to help with an Outreach at Anza for a group of around 20 middle school children from Stephen White Middle school. This group is working through a program sponsored by Motorola which is run by Wayne C Johnson (not our Mr Galaxy - but nevertheless a very dedicated teacher of this science). This program involves the students giving up two Saturdays every month to go through a thorough introduction to this science. It gives me extreme pleasure to be able to share what I know and have learned about astronomy with young inquisitive minds. We started out looking at planets and gradually got further away stopping off at Open Clusters (M41), The Orion Nebula, M1 - the crab nebula, M3, and then some galaxies in Leo and then Virgo. The students soaked up every morsel of information that I could tell them about these wonderful objects.

Below is a photograph of the new Public area on the football field - showing the new pads with electricity. So - the first to experience this were the children and parents and sponsors of this outreach group.


Onto my "First Light" link. There is so much going on at Anza - those of you who have not been for a while are in for a treat when you next visit (hopefully you already have attended the Anza Messier Marathon on March 24th). Russell Sipe has been working with a number of dedicated club members on the completion of his new "StarCruiser" observatory. The 16.25" telescope is still being worked on elsewhere - however the motorized dome is now all but complete. Russell very kindly invited many of us - including the young budding astronomers of the Stephen White Middle School to experience the "First Naked-Eye Light" for his observatory dome. It was a great moment as Russell invited around 20 of us to squeeze into his dome and to be introduced to the concept of what it means to be among the first to experience such an event. Russells observatory is set to become a major addition to the research that will be performed alongside the Kuhn Telescope by OCA Members Myke Collins and Minor White. Below is a photo of the dome and some of the members who contributed their muscle to the effort. I am sure that Russell will want to write a full article on his experiences.

In addition to the new Dome up on our "Observatory Hill" - you will also see new developments out at the Members Observatories area. Here our own Board Member and "Volunteer Extraordinaire", Gary Schones, has been grading some of the land to allow the development of two further permanent observatories - one for himself - and another for OCA Member (and Pad Electrician) Vance Tyree.

March was also the time that another great event happened which I would be very remiss in not mentioning. On March 10th we had a truly remarkable club event. AstroImage 2001 was attended by around 125 participants and another 10 or so active volunteers. This I am told is one of the best attendance's of all times. I know that Sirius Astronomer editor Chris McGill will be developing a great summary of the meeting both for publication in our newsletter and for our website with help from Dave Kodama - so look out for this. However there are already video archives of every single presentation up on the web site right now for you to enjoy. Which brings me onto my other area of how the club can impact an even wider community than we could have imagined a year ago. This year - with help from my own company - marchFIRST - and my wife - Anna Kennedy, we managed to deliver the conference live to 20 remote participants who were based in various parts of the USA, Canada and even Australia. In several cases the stream was being displayed on a large-screen projector for up to 10 people. Our remote attendees probably amounted to up to 35 people. This brings the total up to around 160 attendees of AstroImage 2001.

I thought I would share with you some of the accolades we received from these remote viewers.

Dear Liam and OCA associates,

I want to thank you and all of the organizers of AstroImage 2001 for providing such an excellent video feed to us at UW-Whitewater. With the exception of a very few hiccups, requiring restarts of the feed, I had no difficulty in providing my students and local amateurs with an excellent program in one of Upham Hall's multimedia classrooms.

I hope you will be able to archive some, if not all, of the presentations given at this year's conference. If you can, they will be excellent teaching tools for my future classes.

Thanks again for a high-quality effort, and I hope Orange County Astronomers will continue this excellent service -- even if it may be only available "after the fact".

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater's College of Letters and Sciences and its Department of Physics look forward to hosting a video feed of the next AstroImage conference.

Paul Rybski

Paul M. Rybski, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Chair, Dept. of Physics, and
Director, Whitewater Observatory
University of WI-Whitewater
Whitewater, WI 53190-1790


Hey Liam,
I can't express my gratitude appropriately. This is an unbelievably valuable resource. Thank you!!! It was a great conference. The video feed brings me content that I otherwise would have a rare chance to view. Orange County Astronomers has much to be proud of. Your website has become resource number one for my future astronomy club meetings. The What's Up presentations are outstanding. Please let me know what my astronomy club and I can do to support you efforts in making this high quality content available.

Jeff Ball
Ohio Valley Astronomical Society

It remains for me to thank the organizers of the AstroImage event for making such a conference so valuable to our members, visiting clubs,and enthusiasts around the world. Well Done!

What a wonderful club!

Liam Kennedy
"every day we are connecting ever more photons of light from distant galaxies to the hearts, minds and imaginations of our members and others in our community."