President’s Message – February 2010

Posted On February 1, 2010

Welcome to the start of a new administration for the board of the OCA. There have been some changes in the board as you may or may not be aware of. We had the annual election in January, and I was elected President.

For those of you that are not familiar with whom I am, Ill give you a synopsis. Those that are familiar with me and my association with the OCA over these past eight years feel free to skip ahead in this column.

I've been involved in astronomy as a hobby for almost 40 years. I started like many of us with a Tasco 60mm Refractor. In the mid 1970's in Central New Jersey (where I was growing up) there were no astronomy clubs, no internet and very few people who shared my obsession for looking at the sky through pieces of glass. Every object I found was my own and I would drag my friends and family out to see what I had found. Of course with an Alt-Az mount that had no tracking I had to frequently spend some time re-finding the object that caught my eye. In the winter it made for some cold people and frustrating observing sessions.

In 1980 I moved to Orange County and had to leave my scope behind. I was disappointed when I saw the horrible grayish skies of my new home. I was used to some light pollution, but compared to where I was living in Jersey Southern California was like day light. I could not see very many stars and I dispired my observing days were over. I still kept up with the hobby and science, but had no clue that the OCA was here. I had no friends that were into the hobby and wound up getting out of active observing.

Fast forward 20 years I drag head out in search of a dark area in Orange County to see the 2001 Leonids. I did not know about the area around Blackstar/Santiago Canyon and wound up in the cul-de-sac outside Irvine Regional Park. There was a good sized crowd there and one gentleman had an ETX-70 set up on the hood of his car. I spent as much time looking at Saturn and other objects as I did at the meteor shower which was spectacular even from O.C. That Christmas I received an ETX-105 as a present. It was leaps and bounds above my old 60mm dept. store telescope. I then found the OCA via search on the Internet and attended my first meeting. I joined the club and quickly became involved in the Outreach program headed up by Jim Benet. Through the Outreach program I met and became friends with Liam Kennedy (then President) and Barbara Toy (then VP). Both Liam and Barbara convinced me to run for the Board of trustees. I did and somehow won a seat. After my first year on the board, My friend and fellow Board member Matt Ota nominated me for the Vice president's position. I was hesitant, but ran and was elected to serve the club in that capacity.

I've been the Club's Vice President for the past 5 years and had fun doing it. I met some wonderful people in the Astronomy world, both amateurs and professionals. I was able to bring in some good speakers and on occasion some that did not work out as well as we had hoped. When Barbara decided to step down as President (after 6 terms), it was suggested that I take the role. Again I was hesitant, after all I had to follow her exceptional terms as President of this amazing club. But never one to shy away from a challenge I decided to take it on.

Which brings me to today. As I start my term as President of the OCA I have a few things to consider. First and foremost is the old maxim "If it ain't broke Don't fix it.". From where I sit the club and current policies work. I have no intentions of coming in and trying to change the way things are done (not that my fellow board members would allow that anyway, we are pretty good at self policing). Every administration has a ideas of what they would like to see the club do/get more involved with. I'm no exception. For me one of my biggest concerns about the OCA and it extends to the entire hobby as well, is the lack of younger members. I would like to see us as a club do more to bring in younger members. I do not have any firm ideas on how yet, but I do know that it is vital for us as a club if we are to grow and an important area of education for the youth of today.

I will continue to be involved with the special interest groups I've been attending for the past few years (Go-To group, Astroimagers, and the occasional beginner's class), But I also intend to learn what I can about the other SIGs I have not been involved with. So I'll be attending the Remote telescope, and Astrophysics groups on occasion.

I look forward to working with the new board and it will be a bit strange not to have to find the speakers each month and I look forward to see who  brings in and what he brings to the table.

I know I have a lot to learn about running the club, and I'm glad that Barbara is still there for me to ask questions of and offer me her knowledge as I navigate the waters. I can be reached at (714) 721-3273 or via e-mail at

Here's hoping you have Clear Dark Skies and I'll see you next month.