President’s Message – March 2017

Posted On March 1, 2017

By Barbara Toy

Changes on the OCA Board:

As some of you may remember, we had our annual election for the Board of Trustees in January, and Steve Short was elected as the President for 2017. He has always had a busy schedule and many responsibilities outside the club, and he found that he was not able to continue with what would have been his third term as the club President and resigned that position. The Board selected me to fill the position in his place, so it will be my privilege to serve as your President for 2017.

With the change in the presidency, the OCA Board was left with a vacant Trustee position, and we asked for volunteers so we would have a full Board for 2017. We were delighted that we had three candidates, Doug Millar, John Hoot and William Daly. Since there were other candidates and his schedule was full, William decided to withdraw his candidacy, but we thank him for his willingness to become involved in the management of the club and hope he may run for a Trustee position in the future.

The Board members had to make the difficult decision between the remaining two candidates, and selected Doug Millar to fill the vacancy. Those who come to our general meetings have seen him as the coordinator for the youth group and the person who has been doing the club announcements since Bob Buchheim stepped down as club Secretary. Doug was a member of the Board in the 1990s, and his wife, Helen Mahoney, is a former President of the club, so this won’t be an entirely new experience for him. We are looking forward to working with him as our new Trustee for 2017.

The sad news here is that John Hoot won’t be joining the Board this year. He recently retired from his consulting business (he did a lot of work for Meade Instruments over the years, a client of particular interest to many members of the club), and is keeping himself busy with his own research projects and work with CUREA at Mt. Wilson, among other things. His website has a lot of information on his ongoing projects, and is well worth a visit: It’s great that, with retirement, John has more time to get involved with the club again, and we appreciate his willingness to volunteer for the vacant Trustee position.

A Retrospective on Steve Short:

I am very glad that Steve Short was able to preside at the club banquet, the first we’ve had for a number of years, which was on January 14 at JT Schmid in Anaheim. This was a project he and Bonnie Short spent a lot of time and effort on, and it was a great success – good food, good company and conversation, great talk by Joel Harris on the upcoming eclipse on August 21 – Steve and Bonnie have every reason to be proud of that accomplishment and I hope they enjoyed it as much as the rest of us who attended.

Steve also decided to step down from his position as Black Star Canyon coordinator, a position he took over from Bob Buchheim over a decade ago. He advised the board that Steve Mizera has agreed to take on that position, and that he has been orienting him on what’s involved to make the transition go smoothly. We are very grateful to Steve Short for all the time and effort he put into making these star parties a success over the years he has managed them, and to Steve Mizera for volunteering to become the new Black Star Canyon coordinator.

Those who were on Steve Short’s mailing list for Black Star Canyon are familiar with his summaries of what should be in good position for viewing for these star parties, including transient events like Iridium flares and the ISS passing over the site; he posted these on the club website as well. He has done these for years, and put a lot of time and effort into them. Many people found them helpful and informative, particularly those who were fairly new to astronomy – and even those with experience appreciated knowing when they might see the ISS or an Iridium flare, as they are always fun and not everyone has time or remembers to hunt down the information before heading out to a star party.

Steve has always had an interest in helping beginners get past that initial learning curve that causes a lot of people to give up in frustration before they get to the point that they can find the objects they are interested in reliably and enjoy the views. It seems he often spent more time helping others than he did looking through his own telescope, but he genuinely enjoyed it. He assisted with the Beginners Astronomy Class for many years, was a regular volunteer for the “How to Use Your Telescope” sessions, and also was active with the Outreach program pretty much since he joined the club in 2003. He also participated in Explore the Stars, a multi-club outreach program at Observatory Campground at Palomar Mountain, and gave a number of his “Sky Tours” as the featured presenter before the evening’s viewing started.

The Loaner Scope program was another of Steve’s projects – it had developed a number of problems over the years, and Steve came up with a better tracking system for equipment that was out on loan and helped build up the stock of telescopes to make it a strong program again. His final coup was finding Sandy and Scott Graham to take on the management of that program, and we are very grateful for their efforts, which, among other things, give people a chance to try out different scopes before deciding what they want to get for themselves.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of what Steve has been involved in during the time he’s been a member of the club. Before he was president, he was on the board as a trustee for many years, and often volunteered to help with different issues or projects that came up, in addition to all of his other activities, and he’s also been active in a number of the club’s special interest groups. When one is involved in a lot of activities, the fun of doing the hobby for its own sake can sometimes get lost – I hope, when things settle down for him, that Steve is able to have some time to enjoy the night sky, just for himself, and also that we’ll continue to see him at club events that he finds fun and interesting.

Whatever he decides to do, we certainly wish Steve and Bonnie long and happy lives filled with family, friends and activities that they enjoy, and thank them both for all they’ve done for the club over the years. I’m sorry that Steve wasn’t present at the club general meeting on February 8 to hear the round of applause he received from everyone there, which I’m sure would have been even louder and longer if he had been present in person for it.

On Another Steve – Our Editor, Steve Condrey:

When I was looking at some past issues of the Sirius Astronomer, I realized that Steve Condrey has been our editor since 2003, when he took it over from Darren Thibodeaux. That means that this is his 14th year as editor – 14 years of pulling together material to fill each issue, organizing it and figuring out how everything should fit, sometimes doing judicious pruning or adjustment if needed, finalizing it and getting it to the printer, every month, 12 times a year.

That is really impressive, and he’s continued to do it while working full time, going to school to finish a degree, dealing with issues with his and his wife’s extended families, and raising an adopted son and daughter with all of the challenges parents of young children have. As if that wasn’t enough, he also periodically does informative “What’s Up” programs for us, and in the past, before they became parents, Steve and Sandy were the Anza House Coordinators, and Steve spent some time on the OCA Board as a trustee, as well.

So, next time you see Steve Condrey at a meeting or other event, please thank him for keeping the Sirius Astronomer the fine publication it is for all the years he’s been its editor, and for all his other activities on behalf of the club in the time he’s been a member. And, if you really want to make his day – write an article that he might be able to use in the newsletter!

Anza Issues

In case you’re wondering why the Anza site was closed for several weeks in January and February, our well pump failed and had to be replaced, and then we discovered that the storage tank, which had a small leak before the pump failure, completely failed in the time the pump was out and would no longer hold water at all (it went in around 1980, so we can’t claim we didn’t get our money’s worth from it). That has now been replaced as well, and while all that was going on we had no water on site and therefore no restrooms. Once the replacement pump and tank were in, it turned out there was a mistake in how they did the connections on the tank – our plumbing system at Anza is somewhat unusual – and no water was reaching the club observatory or Anza House. The well company (Heritage Well Service, which has been a pleasure to work with on these issues and past repairs we needed for our water system) quickly made the necessary changes, and the water should be fully back in service. If anyone finds a problem with it, please notify Alan Smallbone (, the current club Secretary and also our point person with the well service, or me (
© Barbara Toy, February 2017