President’s Message – January 2010

Posted On January 1, 2010

By Barbara Toy

2010 is off and running, and, depending on how you look at it, this is either the last year of the first decade or the first year of the second decade of the new millennium. Either way, we're going to have to get used to putting a "1" in the year where we have been used to putting a "0." Getting used to a new tens-place designator is something we have to do every 10 years, but I guess it shouldn't be as tough a change as getting used to writing "20" instead of "19" ten years ago.

We're now past the shortest day/longest night of the year, and our nights will slowly be getting shorter as we head back toward the summer solstice in June. Fortunately for those who like winter viewing, we won’t notice much of a difference for a while. Compared to places further north, the change in the length of our nights over the course of the year may be considered pretty minor we do get several hours of full dark even during shortest nights of the year but we southlanders still find it significant. At any rate, I hope you're enjoying some nice long nights of viewing, and that you find any problems with winter cold to be a lot less than you imagined!

On Passing the Baton

This is my last President's Message before turning both the honor and the office over to my successor, who I expect to be Craig Bobchin even though, as I write this, the election has not yet taken place. We need regular changes in leadership to keep the club healthy, and I'm looking forward to seeing how he takes on the challenges of the presidency.

It’s been a real privilege to serve all of you as president for the six (non-consecutive) years that I’ve held the office. I’ve had a lot of fun in that position, met a lot of interesting people and had a lot of experiences that I wouldn’t have had if Liam Kennedy and the others on the Board at the time hadn’t convinced me to run for the office in the first place, back near the end of 2002.

There have been changes and developments in the club in the period since I first took office, such as the development and adoption of the Anza site plan that is allowing us to build more observatories and other structures, the new roof for the club Observatory and the new roof for Anza House, improvements to the Kuhn, and the growth of the outreach program and several of the special-interest groups, among other things. My main role in most of what’s been done to improve things in the club during my time in office has been to stay out of the way of the fine folks who took those projects on I encouraged them, lent a hand where I could, but generally let those with the expertise get the job done. I’m really happy that a lot of good things have happened during my presidency, but the credit has to go to a wide range of talented people in the club, such as:

- Jim Benet and his volunteers for the continued development of the outreach program and, in particular, its tremendous success in our local schools;

- Dave Radosevich, Jim Hannum, John Kerns and their crew for the new roof on the club observatory;

- Dave Radosevich for renovating the Kuhn telescope and putting in the new motors and control system;

- Pat Knoll for fine-tuning the Kuhn (and repairing it when needed) and for developing an interface so it can be guided while imaging;

- Gary Schones for doing the maintenance on the roads on the Anza site and around it, arranging for the new roof on Anza House and the new front door on the club observatory among many other contributions;

- Bob Buchheim, Gary Schones, Charlie Oostdyk, Don Lynn, Jerry Floyd, John Castillo, Tom Kucharski, Leonard Voorhis, Alan Smallbone and the others who contributed to the work of the Anza Site Planning Committee for developing the new site plan Bob did a tremendous amount of work to pull the ideas of the committee together into a form that allowed a formal plan to be drawn up and submitted to the county for approval, which we finally did obtain;

- Gary Schones for shepherding various plans through and otherwise dealing with the Riverside County Planning Department, clearing the new observatory pad areas, dealing with Anza Power, and innumerable other tasks (including actual construction) that have made our Anza Site Plan a reality and are now resulting in new member observatories at Anza;

- Vance Tyree and his crew for putting in the fiber optic cable for the on-site network at Anza:

- Karen Schnabel for the continual revitalizing of our library with new materials and resources;

- Dave Pearson for taking over the Beginners Astronomy Class on short notice when Antonio Miro had to give it up due to health problems, and for developing new materials and approaches to teaching the class that have helped keep it very active;

- Steve Short for his constant activities to improve the Black Star Canyon star parties, including efforts to strengthen ties with the Irvine Co. and Nature Conservancy;

- Don Lynn for putting the fence in around the Anza site and too many activities around the site to enumerate that help keep it going (not to mention such additional activities as his column in the Sirius Astronomer and his contributions at all of the many meetings he attends);

- Steve Condrey for his capable efforts both as editor of the Sirius Astronomer and as Anza House Coordinator (the latter with his wife, Sandy);

- Charlie Oostdyk for so many contributions it’s hard to know where to start besides looking after the clubs finances, tax filings, insurance and other necessary components of his job as treasurer, they include such things as maintaining the club membership information, processing and mailing out the Sirius Astronomer each month, trouble-shooting the club’s weather station and the uploading of information from Anza to the club website, and dealing with satellite and other Anza Internet issues, among many others.

These are just a few of the many members who have contributed to the clubs success over the last seven years I wish I could give proper credit to everyone. Thank you to all of you for all you have done to help improve the clubs activities and facilities over the years!

OCA Desk Calendars:

As a reminder you can still get our 2010 OCA AstroImage desk calendar contact Alan Smallbone ( to order the number you want, and he will have them made. To maximize the benefit to the club, we are not printing a big inventory of calendars, but are having them made as they are needed. Charlie Oostdyk has a few in stock as I write this, but (we hope) will sell them by the time you see this having a lot of calendars left would be a loss to the club rather than an effective fund-raiser.

The price is $10.00, which includes the case that folds over to form the stand for the calendar. Everything over the costs of the printing and the cases goes to the club. The calendars themselves show off the talents of our own imagers, and they fit in well on almost any desk or counter you should definitely order one while the new year is young, if you haven’t gotten one already!

How To Use Your Telescope Class

Several years ago, we decided to include a How To Use Your Telescope" section as part of our regular Beginners Astronomy Class. Since then, we've been doing it twice a year, usually as the fifth of the six regular Beginners Class sessions. This usually means that this session falls in January (conveniently close to Christmas) and July.

This year, the regular date for the January Beginners Class session is January 1, 2010. As you might guess, this was not a good night for How to Use Your Telescope session for many reasons, particularly the fact that potential class members and the volunteers who would be needed to help them are all very likely to have other obligations that day. So, we agreed that the best course would be to cancel the January class and move the How To Use Your Telescope class to the February class date. It will therefore take place on February 5, 2010, at 7:30 p.m. outside the classroom (inside if its raining) at the Heritage Museum of Orange County (formerly the Centennial Heritage Museum), located at 3101 West Harvard Street, Santa Ana.

Most unfortunately, this means that we will not be able to have the imaging session of the Beginners Class, which Kyle Coker has developed and taught over the last few years, in this cycle of the class. The next beginners imaging session will therefore be in August, 2010, as the last session of the next cycle of the Beginners Class. If you are interested in imaging and want information and help getting started, our AstroImage group is a great resource, and I encourage you to attend their meetings and/or join our astroimaging email group at

As to the How to Use Your Telescope session, this is for anyone who has a telescope and needs some help learning to set it up or use it, or who may be interested in getting a telescope and want guidance on what to get. Its essentially a mini-star party, where the people attending the class set up their scopes with help from club volunteers, who work with different people setting up equipment, answer questions and help with whatever difficulties people may be having with their equipment and getting started finding objects. When the weather cooperates, people who attend get the experience of finding and seeing the moon, whatever planets may be visible, and other objects through their own telescopes and sharing the view with others.

Of course, to make the sessions a success, we need to have volunteers, and if you can come help us out on February 5, we would really appreciate it. Over the time we’ve been doing this class, the GoTo group has been very generous in providing help for these sessions, as have several active Outreach volunteers those of us who are involved with the Beginners Class are very grateful for the help all of you have given us in the past, and hope you’ll be able to help us out again this February.

This class is always a lot of fun, whether you come as a participant or volunteer, and we look forward to seeing you there!

A Couple of Reminders re: Anza

If you stay at Anza House while you are using the Anza site, please remember that the charge for staying at Anza House is $5.00 per night, to help cover maintenance, supplies and the other costs associated with the house. This applies whether you are in one of the bedrooms or are sleeping on one of the couches in the living room or even on your own cot or the floor. We recently realized that people sleeping in the living room apparently believed that the charge didn’t apply to them, which is a mistake on their part the charge applies to everyone staying at Anza House.

We generally have used the honor system for these payments, and we would like to keep it that way, so please do your part and, if you stay there, put your payment in the box on the wall, ideally in one of the envelopes that should be under the box, with your name written on the envelope so we can properly account for the payment. Even if you don’t sleep there, if you use Anza House a lot, it would be helpful if you could drop a few dollars in the box now and then to help cover expenses.

As another reminder all of us who use the Anza site need to be sure that Anza House and the club observatory are locked up before the last person leaves the site. So, if you’ve been using the facilities at the club observatory and don’t see anyone else around as you are preparing to leave make sure the restroom and the warming room are locked, and that the lock box is locked once you put the key back inside it. If you do see someone else around, make sure that he or she knows to check the observatory before leaving. If you were in the lower part of the site and using the facilities at Anza House, please be sure Anza House is locked up before you leave, and that the lockbox there is locked, as well and, if you don’t lock it up because someone else is there, please be sure that person knows to lock up when he or she leaves.

Final Words

Your new president will formally take office at the January 2010 Board meeting I know we all wish him the best of luck as he takes on this new position! In addition to giving him whatever help I can during this transition, I’ll be continuing to work with the Kuhn as Observatory Custodian and Star Member Trainer, and I’m hoping I’ll have more time to work on membership issues as Member Liaison and to get more activity going with our Dark Sky group and I expect I’ll still be writing for the Sirius Astronomer. My current job is taking a lot more of my time than past jobs, though, so this may be a bit optimistic. However it all works out, 2010 should be an interesting year I hope it turns out to be a truly excellent year for all of you and those dear to you!

Barbara Toy, December 2009