President’s Message – July 2017

Posted On July 1, 2017

By Barbara Toy

Congratulations on Pauline Acalin’s First issue as the New Editor of the Sirius Astronomer!

This issue of the Sirius Astronomer is the first for Pauline Acaline as our new editor – as I write this, in mid-June, I don’t know if she had any particular problems pulling it all together and getting it to the publisher, but I hope all has gone smoothly!

Please let her know you’re glad she’s come on board, and help her (and the club) with club-related/club-generated content – if you have an article on something astronomical or club-related that you’ve been thinking of writing, please do, and send it to Pauline for our newsletter. There may be some things she can’t include, or has to postpone to a later issue, but we do like to have original content on topics of interest to our membership. I know there are a lot of you out there doing interesting astronomy-flavored things or with knowledge that gives interesting insights on topics of astronomical interest – do write them up so we can all benefit!

More Changes on the OCA Board:

Most unfortunately (for us), Amir Soheili has been transferred out of state and so has had to resign his position as OCA Trustee. He expects to be back in this area for weekends for a while, until his wife finds a new position and the whole family can move, so they both will be kept very busy during this transition period, but he may be able to make it to a few more club meetings or star parties before their move is complete. We will really miss his input and enthusiasm, as well as all the hard work he’s been putting into designing a new website for the club using current technology.

In spite of all of the hours he put into developing a new website that would meet the needs of our club, there’s a lot more that needs to be done before it could go on line, so we do need a volunteer to take over on that project. Amir is willing to work with whoever takes that on to help get him or her (or them – this doesn’t have to be a solo job) up to speed on what he’s done, what’s still needed, and the concerns that have to be dealt with to complete it. If you’re interested in helping out with this, please contact me at, or contact Alan Smallbone ( or Charlie Oostdyk (

This also left a vacancy on the Board, and John Hoot, who volunteered at the time of our previous vacancy, presenting the Board with the very difficult choice between him and Doug Millar to fill it, has graciously agreed to fill it. So, though we are very sorry to lose Amir, we are looking forward to having John, with his many years of experience in equipment design and astronomical research, joining us on the Board.

Annual Starbecue – July Anza Star Party:

Our annual club potluck Starbecue will be the evening of the July Anza Star Party, on July 22. Sometimes we have it at the August Star Party, but that is not an option this year, as so many club members will be out of the area for the eclipse on August 21; I suspect that both of our August Star Parties (both Anza and Black Star Canyon are on August 19) will have lighter attendance than usual for summer star parties as people head out to wherever they plan to view the eclipse.

So, July is the better of the summer options this year, and I expect that one of the topics of conversation during both the Starbecue and star party itself will be the plans that people have for where and how they plan to view (and image) the eclipse.

Besides the food, Starbecue star parties are particularly fun because more family members tend to come than for regular star parties, and people who only make it out to Anza intermittently often make it a point to come, as well, so it’s a chance to see peoples we haven’t seen in a while and to get to know members we may not have run across before. Also, since people are generally busy imaging or viewing during star parties and often don’t have time to roam around the site much, and the Anza site is so big and with so many different areas where people set up, it gives a chance to visit with people who may be out there a lot but stay in different areas of the site.

This is a potluck, and – speaking from experience with past Starbecues – we have a lot of really good cooks in the OCA! We’ll have a barbecue going (gas, so we don’t have to worry about briquettes), so feel free to bring something to grill. Salads, casseroles, vegetables, other side dishes, appetizers, fruit, deserts – all are welcome, but we don’t have a formal sign-up for what people are bringing. If you bring something you think would serve around eight people, that generally works out well.

The club supplies plates, tableware, napkins and bottled water as well as the club barbecue. We have barbecue utensils, donated by Greg Schedcik several years ago, but please bring anything needed to serve or prepare what you bring (e.g. serving spoons, bowl or platter, knife, tongs). If you bring something that needs power (such as a slow cooker), please also bring an extension cord.

We plan to start setting up on the east/shady side of the club observatory around 5:00 p.m. on July 22, and eating will probably be in full swing around 6:00. We have some tables for setting out the food, but a limited number of chairs – it’s a good idea to bring something comfortable to sit on even if you expect to spend a lot of time wandering around talking to people. We have limited parking by the observatory, so, if you need to drop things off, please plan to park on the levels below the observatory afterward.

Please remember to take any leftovers with you when you leave – and if you can help with the cleanup, that would be great! We need volunteers to take trash bags away for disposal, too, as we don’t have trash service out there.

I look forward to seeing you at Anza for another fun Starbecue!

About that Eclipse…

Several people have contacted me in recent weeks about whether the club is organizing an expedition to see the August 21, 2017 solar eclipse, which is definitely a Big Deal for those of us in North America who are interested in astronomical events, and which is even attracting the attention now of people beyond astronomy enthusiasts as the media catches eclipse fever. Our club doesn’t have the resources to organize something like that – any of you who have been to talks that Joel Harris, a club member who became a professional eclipse tour organizer many years ago, has given on some of his past trips and on factors to consider in choosing a viewing location, has some idea of just how complex that can be. Most of those who regularly organize eclipse tours were reserving accommodations and making other arrangements well over a year ago, and the most popular locations have been sold out for months.

What the club has done over the last year or more is provide various presentations with information to help people decide where they want to go for the eclipse and how they want to view or image it. Among these have been talks by Joel Harris at one of our general meetings and at the club banquet (the latter was specifically on the upcoming eclipse), and there have been a number of presentations at meetings of the AstroImagers group on different topics related to the eclipse. Those that I happened to see included presentations by Dave Kodama on his observations from traveling around some of the areas he was considering as eclipse-viewing sites over the last two Augusts, and he also gave a talk on imaging tips for the eclipse based on his past experience, and Alan Smallbone and others at different meetings talked about the pros and cons of different equipment that could be used to image the eclipse. Of course, people have also been sharing their particular plans and information they have gathered in informal discussions at various club events, and there has also been a lot of sharing of information through the club’s email groups, though more on than on the more general email group, (if you want to check the archives).

If you want to see the eclipse and haven’t made specific plans, you definitely need to move fast to get something in place as time is short and a lot of options are no longer available. For everyone who’s going – best of luck with your viewing location, and I’m looking forward to hearing about your experiences and seeing your images! For those who can’t go – I hope you have fun with the partial eclipse! As for me – I’m really looking forward to seeing my first total solar eclipse!

© Barbara Toy, June 2017