President’s Message – December 2004

Posted On December 1, 2004

By Barbara Toy


The year continues speeding along its cycle, and here we are at the Holiday Season – by the time this gets to you, Thanksgiving will be past, and (barring unforeseen delays in delivering the Sirius Astronomer) Christmas, Hanukkah, and the other midwinter holidays will be still to come. As I write this, I know that some of our members have just finished celebrating Ramadan – whatever your particular celebration, best wishes to you and your families, and may the coming year be a truly good one for all of us!


Every year it seems that there are a few Board members who leave the Board – while this helps bring in new people every year, which is good for the health of the club, it also means that we lose colleagues we like and respect. Fortunately, they usually remain active in the club, but it is a genuine sorrow to say farewell to them as Board members. As of the time I am writing this, there are three current Board members who have told us that they will be unable to run for the 2005 Board, who are all great losses:

Bruce Crowe

Most unfortunately, Bruce Crowe, who has been the club Secretary since 1999 and was a Trustee before that, is one of those who will not be running for reelection. In the last year, he had a major – and well-earned – promotion at work, which was great for him and his family. It wasn’t quite such good news for the club, as he’s had less and less time for club matters since then, so his decision to leave the Board is quite understandable, though we sincerely regret it. Besides his extensive knowledge of the club as a long-time active member, Bruce worked a lot in construction, had his own property management business, and is now a lawyer. He’s been very generous in sharing his knowledge with the Board, and his contributions of information and advice have been invaluable to us on a lot of different issues – and his energy and enthusiasm have enlivened many meetings over the years!

As a lawyer myself, I particularly value his efforts while Secretary to make the club’s Minute Book as complete as possible. We have continuous records of Board meetings since he took on the duties of Secretary, which is of tremendous help to us and will make life much easier for his successor, but most of the records from before he took office are still missing in spite of his attempts to locate or reconstruct them. In addition to his regular Board duties, Bruce has been very generous with his time and expertise in tracking down information from various governmental agencies during the time I’ve been on the Board, and in helping us work out the implications of various decisions we’ve been faced with over the years.

Bruce – we’ll really miss you! Here’s hoping your new duties allow you at least some time for viewing!

Joel Harris

Joel Harris served on the Board for several years, then left it due to his many other commitments, and then agreed to come back as Vice President in 2003. Since he lives at the other end of the San Fernando Valley, it has often been very difficult for him to attend meetings here in Orange County. Last year, he decided that he couldn’t continue with the duties of Vice President, and I was very pleased when he decided to run for a regular Trustee position, in spite of the distance (and the rising cost of gasoline!). Unfortunately, he has been finding it increasingly difficult to participate in Board matters, as he’s in school working on a Masters Degree as well as working full time in his regular job and running his astronomical touring company – and he has a family. Although he won’t be on the 2005 Board, he has generously agreed to organize the next club Banquet, drawing on his experience in putting together the excellent Banquet we had in late 2003.

Joel – thank you for your efforts on behalf of the club, good luck in your studies, and we’re looking forward to the Banquet!

Stephen Eubanks

I first met Stephen Eubanks while I was covering the needs of Anza House while we were looking for a new Anza House Coordinator after Roy Weinberger had to leave that position. After rigorously cross-examining me about what was involved, Steve volunteered to become the new Anza House Coordinator, and I became his main liaison with the Board until he joined the Board himself as a Trustee – so I knew first-hand the enthusiasm he brought to the position of Anza House Coordinator and the energy and imagination he put into various improvements and repairs he made to Anza House. He brought that same enthusiasm to his position as Trustee, and has often raised issues or provided us with insights from his background building and running his own business. Having your own business is very demanding, and we’re lucky indeed that Steve has been able to free up as much time for club affairs as he has over the last few years.

You may recall that Steve through his company, Advanced Telescope Systems, was one of the sponsors of the AstroImage 2004 Conference, and that (as I mentioned in the October President’s Message), Steve also helped out with a lot of the physical work we needed to do over the course of the conference, such as (repeatedly) moving tables and equipment – in addition to running his own booth. That’s typical of Steve, who’s always willing to lend a hand when something needs to be done, and who regularly contributes support for club activities, and who, even though he was exhausted from driving back from Arizona and should have been in bed, made the extra effort to come to the November Board meeting so that we would have a quorum. Even though he won’t be on the 2005 Board, I understand that he plans to get out to Anza regularly, and I look forward to seeing him there and at club meetings when he’s able to attend.

Steve – thanks again for all you’ve done for the club – and may your business boom!

OCA Elections

As you can see, there are at least three openings on the 2005 Board for new people – and one of those positions could be filled by you!

In all seriousness, the new people who have come on the Board every year I’ve been a member have brought us new ideas and expertise and have helped strengthen us as the governing body of the club. That’s where you (yes, you!) come in – this is your chance to be some of the “new blood” for the 2005 Board! As long as you’ve been a member for at least a year as of January, 2005, all you need to do to run is to get me your name and I’ll add it to the list of candidates. You can even run for the Secretary position with just that qualification – the only positions that require more are President and Vice President. For those, you need to have served a year on the Board before you’re eligible to run, but that could be any year since the club was incorporated.

In case you were wondering about the duties of the Secretary, the main one is to produce Minutes of each meeting, as a record of decisions that are made and funds that are allocated. The Secretary also is the officer who is responsible to maintain the official Minute Book, which (ideally) should contain all of the records of past Board meetings – in actuality, as mentioned above, the current volumes contain all of the official Minutes for the period that Bruce has been Secretary, and as many of the prior Minutes as he could locate. What the Secretary may do beyond that depends in part on the interests and expertise of the particular Secretary, and (as with Bruce’s activities) can be exceedingly helpful to the club, but providing the records of the Board’s official acts is the heart of the position and is vital to the club’s functions. We most definitely need a club Secretary, now that Bruce has had to give up that position, so, those of you with record-keeping skills – please earn our deepest gratitude by coming forward to run for that position!

Our Fundraising Program continues…

At the November general meeting, we had the initial collection of items to be sold on Ebay as a fundraiser, and I understand that several people have contacted Larry McManus to make arrangements to get donations to him that they can’t bring to one of the meetings easily. We’ll have further collections at the December and January meetings – please plan to clear out your closets, attics, basements, and storage units and donate those things you hate to throw away but will almost certainly never use. You get some freed-up space and a deduction, and the club gets closer to its goal to pay for the fence and new observatory roof at Anza – a real “win” for all concerned!

If you have questions or want to arrange to have your donation(s) picked up somewhere other than at one of the meetings, please contact Larry McManus at 714/731-5542 or at

Thanks to all of you who donate for your help!

The Kuhn

I haven’t said much recently about the Kuhn telescope itself. It’s running well and is a pleasure to use (though it still makes little “jumps” now and then, a problem we’re hoping to solve with installation of a new chip we have on order from Comsoft), but I notice from the log entries that I am still the person using it the most…not that I’m complaining about being able to use it, but I know that there are a lot of other Star Members out there who should be enjoying it as well!

For new Star Members and for existing Star Members who haven’t been trained yet on the new system (or who might want a refresher course), I’ll be happy to set up a training session before any of the Anza star parties or on other nights when I’m scheduled to be out there. If you want to go through the training, please contact me and we’ll set up a specific date.

Thanks to Matt Ota and Craig Bobchin, who spent the evening of the November star party helping out in the observatory, we now have updated comet and asteroid information on the version of TheSky that runs the Kuhn, and the program itself has been updated. This was a bit of a challenge, as the Kuhn’s Internet link is still out, but, with some ingenuity and patience, they managed to do it, and the system was easily able to find the only one of the comets we looked for – a nice fuzzy ball in the eyepiece, still too far away from the sun to have even the start of a tail. That’s a nice addition to the Kuhn’s capabilities!

Another recent improvement is the addition of a star diagonal to the 4-inch refractor that is the largest of the finder scopes on the Kuhn. This is a fine instrument in its own right, especially with a good eyepiece in it – I’ve been using it with the Meade 40mm Ultrawide eyepiece from the club’s eyepiece collection, and getting some excellent views, especially of objects like the double cluster in Perseus, the “E.T. Cluster” and the Pleiades, and on planets and other objects with higher magnifications. The addition of the diagonal makes it easier to focus as well as easier to look at things close to zenith, and, since I added it, visitors to the observatory have been spending almost as much time looking through the 4-inch as through the Kuhn itself. I’ve also been working on the other two finders (both are 3-inch refractors) to make them more functional – one needs a 1 ¼-inch focuser, so if anyone out there has one they’d like to donate to the cause, or at least to try out in the finder, I’d be delighted to hear from you.

If you’re out at Anza for one of the star parties and haven’t yet seen the Kuhn in action, please make it a point to come up to the club observatory and do some viewing through it yourself. And, if you’d like to see how one of your favorite eyepieces works in the Kuhn, please bring it with you – it’s fun to experiment!

In Closing…

I’m afraid it’s definitely cold these nights out at Anza, especially if there’s any wind. The winter constellations are worth a bit of cold, though – within reason, of course! May your viewing nights be comfortable and your skies clear, dark and steady as we head out of 2004 and into 2005!