President’s Message – January 2008

Posted On January 1, 2008

By Barbara Toy

Although different cultures may celebrate the beginning of the new year at different times, in most cultures it seems that the start of each year marks a time of reflection on the year just past and hope for a better year to come. Reflecting on our year just past – 2007 was a great year for OCA, and saw the completion of some important projects that have been hanging over us for a long time. Thanks to the hard work of David Radosevich, Jim Hannum, John Kerns and many others, the roll-off roof on the club Observatory has finally been replaced. Thanks to Gary Schones, who came up with the plan and oversaw the work, the new roof on Anza house was completed before the first major rains in December. And thanks to the persistence and very hard work of Don Lynn over many months, the perimeter fence around our Anza site has also been completed.

For the future, one of our biggest concerns is the development of the "Northwest Territory," the large section in the northwest part of our site that has not yet been graded or otherwise developed. The current round of the planning process has been going on for more than three years now, and is still ongoing. The longest delays in this project been due to the planning process – there's been so much construction in Riverside County in the last few years that finding people to draw the necessary plans and then getting them approved by the County Planning Department has been a much slower process than any of us expected. On the brighter side, with the current downturn in construction, we are hoping that getting plans drawn and approved in the future will be much faster. The grading plans for the initial phase of the development should be finalized and ready for submission to County in the next few months; if they are approved, we would be able to get a permit to begin grading and also get a solid estimate of the cost of the initial phase of the grading.

Another long-standing project that we expect will be fully online in 2008 and ready for more general use is the club's remote-controlled telescope, which is housed in the small clamshell observatory at the west end of Anza House. This should expand our outreach capabilities by allowing us to provide images to classes and groups back in Orange County or even overseas at close to real-time over the Internet. It will also allow people to control the telescope and take images from inside Anza house, either using their own laptops or the club's computer in the control room in Anza house. The EOA, which has been developing this facility, is really looking forward to this phase of the project!

Even though most of our club activities follow regular patterns throughout the years – our monthly general meetings, Beginners Class and SIG meetings, the star parties set by the new moons throughout the year, our winter outreach programs with the schools and the summer programs with various parks, the monthly sessions of Explore the Stars on Palomar Mountain during the summer and fall, and so on – there are always new variations on these activities that keep things interesting. 2008 has every prospect of being another wonderful year for our club – if you haven’t yet tried out all of the different activities our club offers, resolve to try at least one new club activity each month, and follow through and do it. It’s a great way to find new ways to enjoy our hobby, to get to know more fellow club members, and to get your year off to a truly excellent start!

The December star party

Although we really need the rain, it is very unfortunate that the first major storms of the season landed on the first two weekends in December. As a result, the field trip that Irvine Valley College had scheduled at Anza on the first Saturday in December had to be cancelled, and the September star party, set on the second Saturday of the month, essentially didn't happen.

Alan Smallbone and I tried to go out to Anza on the day of the star party, but we found that the mud on the dirt road to the site was so thick that we fishtailed the entire first quarter mile and decided to turn back at that point because of the serious risk of getting stuck. Alan and Bruce Waddington went back the next day in a four-wheel drive vehicle to check the site, and found it covered with snow. Even though the temperatures remained in the 30s, the snow was entirely gone by the time Dave Kodama got there in the late afternoon. Don Lynn told me later that he, Dave Radosevich and Jim Hannum went out there on Friday and left on Sunday, after doing quite a bit of work but no observing, just before the last storm cell came through. Dan Bonis was also there in his RV with his two children, and there was one other member out there as well – it was a very small star party. This was Don’s account of the star party weekend:

Jim, Dave and I left about 10:00 am Sunday. It had started snowing hard and the road condition was deteriorating (snowy and muddy), so we decided to caravan out before it got worse. We saw only Dan Bonis and his 2 kids there (in their motor home) when we left. He said he intended to leave Sunday afternoon. The 7th person [who was at the star party] introduced himself (Saturday afternoon), but in my usual way I have forgotten his name. Said he had been to the site only a few times, and this was the first time he had looked around (came into the observatory to see the telescope and new roof).

Jim, Dave and I arrived at various times on Friday. I didn't get much done Friday, as it was too rainy. Jim might have got some done before I arrived. Dave had to work, so arrived late. There were a couple of stretches of good weather Saturday (only partly cloudy, little wind and no precipitation), so we took advantage of them. It started raining again in the afternoon, so we got to see where the leaks [in the new observatory roof] were [Note: There was no chance to finish sealing the roof before December storms started]. Evening it snowed. So we watched Die Hard 3 on Dave's widescreen TV.

Sunday morning the sun came out and it looked like the snow would melt and things would clear up. Then the wind picked up from the east and blew in clouds dropping snow. That was when we left. Was a bit slippery in several spots, but not really bad. I've driven the road in a little worse condition, but it was bad enough that I was a little worried about sticking in the mud. I don't have 4 wheel drive, but Jim and Dave do.

His picture of the snow around the area of the club observatory should be somewhere in this issue. We generally don’t get a lot of snow at the site, and it seldom lasts long when we do get it, but it adds a bit of fun when it comes, even though it doesn’t help the viewing conditions. We’re hoping conditions will be much better for the January star party!

Anza locks

As an update on the Anza lock situation, Don Lynn found the time while he was at Anza over the star party weekend and summoned the manual dexterity in spite of the extremely chilly conditions there at the time to change the combinations, so, if you are going out to Anza, you will need the new combination to access Anza House and Observatory. If you have not yet received it, please contact Charlie Oostdyk ( or me ( for the combination.

By the time you see this, all of the observatory holders and pad holders at Anza should have received an email with the new combination. If you are a current pad or observatory holder and didn’t receive the email, please check with Charlie to be sure that your contact information is current on his records – as the club treasurer, he’s also in charge of keeping the club’s membership records current.

As I said when I first mentioned the changing of the combinations at Anza, this is needed as a security measure, and we expect to change the combinations regularly in the future. Unfortunately, there have been instances where people whose memberships have lapsed continue to use the site, because they do have the combination to access the facilities, which is unfair to the rest of the membership. If you know of anyone who is doing this, and who is not there as a guest of a current member, please give me or any other member of the board as much information about him or her as possible, including any information you have about when they have actually been at the property. Membership fees are a significant part of our income in the club and are needed to support these facilities as well as our other club activities, and we all have a stake in making sure that those who take advantage of the benefits the club provides also pay their fair share of the cost of those benefits.

And, as a side note, if you find yourself inconvenienced by the change in the combinations, please don't take your irritation out on Don! We are very grateful for his assistance in making the change, but it was the Board that made the decision to make this change.

Some Good Membership Resolutions:

Along with other good resolutions for the new year, this is also a good time for all of us to think about whether there have been any changes in our mailing addresses, telephone numbers or e-mail addresses that Charlie Oostdyk doesn’t have yet, and to give him any changes in that information. This is also a good time to consider whether you are current on your membership fees – Charlie sends out notice when the fees are due, and will send follow-up notices if they are not paid in response to the first notice, but it is an added burden for him to have to send out multiple notices. It will get his year off to a much better start if any of you who are delinquent bring your fees current, and, if you know that your fees are coming due, if you send them in without waiting for a formal notice.

If you find it a hassle to pay the fees every year, one way around that is to get a life membership. The cost of a life membership is based on membership for 10 years, so the cost is 10 times the annual rate or $500 currently. This is particularly good for people who know they will be members for a long time, and it’s good insurance against any increases in the membership fees in the future, as, once you pay for a life membership, you have it for life without any additional payment.

Basics Of Astrophotography Class

Kyle Coker's class on the basics of astrophotography has become a regular feature of our Beginners Astronomy Class, and will be held on Friday, February 1, 2008, at the Centennial Heritage Museum. This session is the sixth and final session of the current cycle of the Beginners Class, but you don’t need to have attended any of the other sessions to attend this one (all of the sessions of the Beginners Class are designed to stand alone, so you don’t need to attend them all or to attend them in order).

Kyle is an active member of our AstroImage group, and is a regular imager at Anza. His Basics of Astrophotography class covers the full range of basic information that anyone who has an interest in imaging astronomical objects would want to know about, including the various types of cameras that can be used, telescope considerations, imaging without a telescope, and a bit about processing the images after you’ve captured the photons. He packs a lot of information into this two hour session, so, if you’re interested at all in imaging the night sky, this class is a great way to learn what you need to do to get started or, if you’ve already tried taking a few images, it’s a good way to get a broader prospective on the different types of imaging you could do and to get some ideas on how to improve on what you are doing.

As with all of our Beginner's Classes, this session on the basics of astrophotography is free and open to the public as well as members of the club. It will be held in the meeting room/classroom on the ground floor of the Carriage House, located at the back of the Centennial Heritage Museum complex. The museum is located at 3101 W. Harvard St., Santa Ana. Harvard is about midway between Warner and Edinger, and the museum is about a half block west of Fairview. If you are coming south on Fairview, Harvard is the second signal past Edinger, and you turn right to go to the museum (which would be on your right). If you are coming north on Fairview, Harvard is the first signal past Warner, and you turn left on Harvard. The driveway to get into the museum property is on the western side of the museum; enter through the wrought iron gates and follow the drive around to the back of the museum property, to the parking area.

By the way, if you have visited Anza and noticed those red lights operating off solar batteries that mark several of the stairways, Kyle was the person who obtained them, painted them red, and installed them – very helpful additions to our Anza facility!

© Barbara Toy, December 2007