President’s message – June 2003

Posted On June 1, 2003

by Barbara Toy

With June comes the Summer Solstice, when the days are at their longest - and the nights at their shortest! Of course, that means that the nights will be getting longer again through the summer, but they will still be a lot shorter than the cold nights of January and February. At least the nights are finally warming up, so we don't need the layers of jackets, etc., that get us through those winter nights - this is the season we look forward to being comfortable in shirtsleeves all night long.

Before turning to other matters, I'd like to start with an item that was originally part of last month's President's Message. Although I'm sorry the topic didn't make that issue, I'm delighted to report that the reason it had to be cut was that there were enough articles submitted that our editor, Darren Thibodeau, didn't have room for everything. This is the kind of "problem" that we like to see - so please keep those articles coming!

Quiet OCA Heroes - Don Lynn and Charlie Oostdyk

To me, people who quietly do what needs to be done because they see the need and are in a position to do something about it are real heroes, especially when doing it requires a continuing commitment of time and energy. We are fortunate that there are many people in the club that fit that description, but I'd like to tell you about two in particular whose efforts we too often take for granted.

One of the emails I got about the Sirius Astronomer delivery last month justly commented that Don Lynn is "one of the club's greatest treasures," with particular reference to his monthly column. He monitors a tremendous number of publications, websites, etc., and produces his summary of important astronomical developments every month (even those rare months when it doesn't make it into the SA because of a technical glitch), and they're all posted on our website in either the on-line version of the SA or the "Astrospace Update Online" section of the OCA website. The column is just the beginning of his club activities, though. Many of you know him as the most regular of our "Ask an Astronomer" panel. He's also active in the Astrophysics, ETX and AstroImage SIGs, and he's a regular at Outreach events, even though he works on the other side of LA and has a long, hard drive to get to them.

What a lot of members may not know is that Don also devotes hours of time each month to the unglamorous job of maintaining and repairing things at the Anza site, and he's been doing that for over 20 years. Stephen Eubanks is the Anza House coordinator, but Don has been known to make repairs there on occasion when they were needed, and he works with Steve on needed modifications, such as repositioning the TV antenna. As "Anza Site Maintenance" person, he looks after everything else on the site, including the club observatory, and is usually the one who spearheads projects such as the construction of the stairs below the member observatory level. Recent projects he's done that I happen to know about (and I know there are many more) include replacing the drive chain for the observatory roof, finishing off the electrical outlets in the Football Field, repositioning and filling the protective posts in front of Anza House with concrete, repairing the water pump, dealing with plumbing problems in the observatory bathroom, and reorganizing the eyepiece case and cutting and marking holes for all of the club's current eyepieces. Of course, he's also actively involved whenever we have an Anza Cleanup Day or other major work party out there. Without all that he does, our Anza site would be a lot less of a pleasure to visit and to use, and would be a lot less safe.

Another of the club's greatest treasures whose activities are also unglamorous and done without fanfare but are even more vital to the continuing health of the club is Charlie Oostdyk, primarily known to members as the club treasurer. As treasurer, of course, he keeps track of our financial obligations and expected future expenditures, pays the bills, takes care of incoming money, gets our various tax and other filings in on time, and keeps the board from spending more than we have. Here's a partial list of what he does beyond that: he keeps the membership list current, keeps track of who is supposed to pay when, sends out appropriate dues notices and follows them up when needed, keeps track of the member pads and observatories, takes care of problems on behalf of the club with entities such as our insurance broker, banks and the post office, keeps track of donations and sends out the acknowledgement letters, takes care of our storage lockers, selects and orders merchandise for the sales table at the general meetings, handles sales as well as other business throughout the meetings, takes care of group reservations for the Anza site and also reservations for the observatory, and picks up and distributes the mail from the club mailbox.

As I mentioned last month, Charlie's also the one who labels, staples and mails out each issue of the Sirius Astronomer; our mailing list has around 760 separate addresses on it. For those that go 1st Class, he has to put them in envelopes, label and stamp them before mailing. If anything extra is added to the SA before mailing, such as the ballots in January or important notices that were too late to put in the SA itself, he's the one who physically puts the additional document into each one before processing it for mailing - so we keep those to a minimum! And he's inevitably the one who does most of the work any time we need to do a mailing to the entire membership. And, although he hasn't been able to get out to Anza much in recent years, he was very active in the early development of the site, and is also a great repository of information about the site, the neighbors, etc., as well as of general historical information on the club (as is Don Lynn).

One of the real benefits to me of being on the board over the last two and a half years has been the chance to work with Charlie and Don, and to get to know them. They both contribute a tremendous amount to the club without much recognition, and I hope, next time you see either of them, you'll let them know their efforts are really appreciated.

Some Bits and Pieces:

Unique Chance To Name An Asteroid:

Many of you know that members Minor White and Myke Collins have been engaged in a serious research effort since 1999 to locate and track new asteroids, and they now have 62 confirmed discoveries, many of them using the club's Kuhn telescope. As the discoverers, they have the right to propose names for their discoveries, which have to be accepted by the CSBN before they become official; two names that have been accepted are WilliamKuhn (for the designer and builder of the club's Kuhn telescope) and AlinaFiocca (for the touching explanation of this name, see They have several confirmed discoveries they have not yet named, and they have now, very generously, opened the naming process to allow members of the public, and particularly club members, to propose names. Check out their website,, for details and for a lot of information about their research and related areas; the direct link to the "Naming Campaign" is: The deadline to submit names for consideration is July 31. Proposed names need to conform to the CSBN naming rules, which are explained on the site. I'm sure a lot of you have good ideas for people who should be honored by having a minor planet named for them - here's your chance!

Correction re: RTMC:

As I write this, RTMC is yet to come, but it should be behind us by the time you read it. I hope that all of you who went had as great a time there as I'm hoping to have. I did make a glaring error in what I wrote in May about RTMC - Camp Oakes is a YMCA camp, not a Boy Scout camp. My apologies to the YMCA for the error, and my thanks as a participant for the use of this great site.

Critter warning:

Please remember when you are on our Anza or our Black Star Canyon sites that they are in wilderness areas, which means that there's a lot of wildlife about, especially now the weather's warming up. Picturesque bunnies and less picturesque gophers leave holes that can trip the unwary. Scorpions, snakes and spiders (particularly Black Widows) can cause a problem for any hand, foot or other valued body part that comes in contact with them. Mosquitoes, wasps, bees, etc., can also leave a painful reminder of any encounter with them. Coyotes frequent both areas, and there are probably mountain lions, as well as a full roster of rodents, bats, and other creatures. There's no need to be panic-stricken about any of them, but do keep a weather eye out so you can avoid potential problems. There's a list of common sense precautions on the back of the Site Rules that you'll find in the kiosk at the entrance to the Anza site. Some of the basics: Don't wander off into the brush at either site after dark, when you can't get a good view of what's around you, and keep any pets you bring on site leashed and within your view. Make enough noise when moving around to give snakes, etc., warning so they can get out of your way. Don't reach or step into any hole or opening without checking to be sure it's not inhabited. And, before you use them, shake out shoes, sleeping bags, and anything else that is left where a home-hunting scorpion or other unwelcome visitor could get to it. And, when the mosquitoes are out in force, bug repellent can keep the annoyance down to tolerable levels.

Annual Starbecue:

Our annual summer potluck party this year will be on the date of the July Anza star party, which is July 26, 2003. We'll have the barbecue going, so bring something to grill or a side dish (or even desert!), and plan to party! We're aiming to gather around 5:30 on the shady side of the observatory, to give plenty of time for food, socializing and cleanup before we all settle into what we hope will be a fine night of enjoying the skies in all our various ways.

We need some volunteers to help with setting up and cleaning up afterwards. Please let me know if you're willing to help out - or 714/606-1825.

Sirius Astronomer:

From the emails I've gotten about the April and May deliveries, it appears that the new office of the USPS we're using is giving us generally faster delivery times than the old one. However, there were some unexpected delays in the May deliveries outside of Orange County, particularly to LA County, and the pattern of deliveries reported for May was distinctly different than for April. To help us track this further, please send me the date you receive the June issue along with your zip code and city to My thanks to all of you who have sent this information for past months, who have made this study possible. For those who are interested in the outcome, I'll try to include a summary of the delivery patterns we observe in next month's PM.