President’s Message – October 2004

Posted On October 1, 2004

Summer is really over now, in spite of the heat spell in September, though the fire season will be with us for a while longer unless the rainy season starts early. In the best of all worlds, we’d get early and frequent rains that would cluster around the full moon – but that never seems to happen in the real life of an astronomer… Rain or not, if you find yourself with some free time on your hands, check out the entries on our on-line calendar (/calendar.asp), and you’ll see that there’s a lot going on in the club, as usual, with something to amuse or interest anyone who has even a faint interest in astronomy. Celebrate the change in seasons by trying out activities you haven’t tried before – it may give you a new area of enjoyment in our hobby and some new friends in the club!

AstroImage 2004

The AstroImage 2004 conference, which, as I write this, happened less than three weeks ago, was a really wonderful event – after hearing so many enthusiastic comments from people who attended the talks, I’m looking forward to seeing them on DVD, since I wasn’t able to attend any of the sessions. If you missed the conference, you should definitely consider getting the talks on DVD as well as the Proceedings, which we’ll have available in the not-too-distant future thanks to Liam Kennedy and Dave Kodama. Keep an eye open for the announcements when they’re ready!

For me, one of the major benefits of the conference was the chance to visit with our sponsors and get to know them better. We had great sponsors for this event, and I’d like to introduce them to you:

Hutech Astronomical Products ( If you see people around with Borg refractors, chances are that they got them through Hutech. The company also carries a lot of products designed specifically for astroimaging, and it’s not uncommon for people who ask for help on the AstroImages email group to be referred to Hutech as a likely source of information or a product to deal with the problem. One of the more recent additions to their product line is the Cannon Rebel digital SLR camera modified for astronomical work – there was a lot of talk about that at the conference (the Hutech “booth” – actually a table – displayed some excellent examples of what this camera can do in practiced hands), and it was even a topic of discussion in the club observatory at the September star party. For most of us, OCA members Ted and Mia Ishikawa are the face of Hutech, and we are very grateful for their long-term support of OCA’s activities, and especially their regular support of the AstroImage Conferences. Besides that – they are wonderful people, and one of the major bonuses of the conference for me was the chance to have a real conversation with Mia during one of the lulls in conference activities.

Oceanside Photo and Telescope (OPT) ( Many of us have spent a lot of happy hours browsing around at OPT, chatting with the staff, running into friends, exchanging information with other customers, and finding various astronomical or camera-related goodies that we can’t live without. It’s always fun to see them at other events (who could miss spending some time in their booth at RTMC?), and AI 2004 was no exception – and it gave me a chance to catch up on the latest on the plans to move the store, and check out some of their products that I hadn’t seen yet at the store (such as the binoculars for solar observing). Besides being a general sponsor for the conference, OPT made arrangements for and sponsored one of the speakers, Mike Unsold, who was a great addition to the line-up of conference speakers. We really appreciate OPT’s past and ongoing support of OCA’s activities, and their many contributions that have helped us bring you special events such as the AstroImage conferences.

Advanced Telescope Systems (ATS) ( Stephen Eubanks (OCA Board member, former Anza House Coordinator, and general lender of aid and assistance when needed) and Advanced Telescopes Systems are pretty much synonymous, as this is Stephen’s company. If you want something portable but more stable than any tripod, you should check out his portable piers (he also makes permanently mounted piers). Besides looking after his own booth, Stephen frequently helped out with other things at the AI 2004 conference, such as setting up tables and chairs for the meals, moving the refreshment tables (we moved those and everything on and around them about four times), bringing an ice chest to help preserve the leftover lunches, and generally doing more than his share to keep things going smoothly. He and his company have been sponsors of past AstroImage conferences in addition to this one (for AstroImage 2002, he even donated one of his piers as a grand prize, which was extremely generous of him), and we are very grateful for that continuing support.

Western Amateur Astronomers (WAA) ( WAA is an umbrella organization of local astronomy clubs, and OCA is a long-time member. Its most visible activity in recent years has been the G. Bruce Blair Award, which gives recognition to people who have made significant contributions to amateur astronomy. Among its activities, WAA also encourages and supports local and regional conferences hosted by local astronomy clubs, and we are very pleased that they became a sponsor of the AstroImage 2004 conference. In particular, they sponsored the refreshments, which meant that I got to work with Tim Hogle (our WAA representative, a Charter Member of OCA, and past OCA Trustee, among other claims to fame) and two of his WAA colleagues, Earl Wilson and Richard Rynne. Earl is the WAA representative for the China Lake Astronomical Society and WAA Treasurer, and Richard is the representative for the Sierra Wave Astronomical Society in Lone Pine, and they both came down to the wilds of Southern California for RTMC, as well – I highly recommend getting to know them if you have the chance, as they’re both a lot of fun. If you have any questions about WAA, suggestions for who OCA should nominate for the next G. Bruce Blair Award, or ideas on what WAA might be able to do to help member organizations, Tim would be delighted to hear from you (he’s listed in the Contact List on the back of the SA).

Without these sponsors, we wouldn’t have been able to provide a conference with the caliber or range of speakers, in as nice a facility, or with the range of activities as we were able to include in AI 2004. We are very grateful to all of them – whenever you next have contact with any of them, please let them know how much their help is appreciated (especially those of you who went to the conference).

Website Update

I’m very happy to report that we now have a new Technical Webmaster, Hari Dudani, who has been taking over responsibility for the technical side of the OCA website from Liam Kennedy. I understand that he is already putting together a list of projects that need his attention – if you notice some changes in how certain portions of the website seem to function, you may be seeing the results of his efforts. We are delighted to have him as part of the team keeping our website working well.

We still need a new Website Editor, the position that Russ Sipe currently is filling. This person would be responsible for keeping content of the website current and adding new content. If you’re interested, please contact Russ Sipe or me (see contact info on the back of the SA). Russ needs to leave that position by the end of the year, due to other commitments, so, if you’re interested in it at all, please contact us as soon as you can.

Local Dark Sky Group

Many of you are familiar with the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) and its efforts to preserve dark skies by a variety of activities that include laws to reduce light pollution, working with the lighting industry on better fixtures and standards, and community education. The IDA website ( has a wealth of information on dark sky topics, including helpful links to even more information. If you want to see examples of lighting ordinances that have been passed in different cities, this is the best place to start. If you want to know what kinds of full cutoff light fixtures are available, this site has links. IDA even has PowerPoint presentations available to help with talks you might want to give on dark sky topics. It’s a great resource to non-members as well as members, but the more members they have, the more clout they have with politicians and bureaucrats, so I hope you’ll join if you aren’t already a member.

In addition to the general organization, there’s a local section of IDA, the San Diego International Darksky Association, which focuses more on lighting issues in Southern California. Although it is centered in San Diego County, lighting in that county unquestionably affects us at Anza, so we have a direct interest in their activities. In a recent flyer I received from them, they mention that they gave “good lighting” awards to Pala Casino and Extended Stay America on Highway 78 for demonstrating good outdoor lighting, and that they are working to introduce the Model Lighting Ordinance that was recently posted on the IDA website in all of the communities in San Diego County that don’t yet have a lighting ordinance – an effort that is likely to benefit us directly (as well as the Palomar observatories), and that I’d like to see pursued in Riverside and Orange Counties, as well.

Lisa Bruhn is the President of San Diego IDA, and is trying to expand the group’s membership base. Again, the more members the group has, the more clout it will have with politicians, bureaucrats, developers, and even the members of the public they try to reach in their community education efforts (and, of course, the funds raised from membership donations help in all of the section’s activities promoting and protecting dark skies). If you would like to join – and I hope you do – they list membership donations at four levels (“Star” at $25.00, “Moon” at $50.00, “Planet” at $100.00, and “Galaxy” at $250.00; all are tax deductible as IDA is a 401c3 organization). You should send your name, address, phone and email information, along with your payment, to: San Diego IDA, 719 Brookins Lane, Vista, CA 92803.

And, if you’re interested in getting involved in a “Dark Sky” section within OCA, please let me know – it’s an area where we really need to take action before we lose our dark sky at Anza entirely to local development and before Orange County is entirely built out.


At the time I originally wrote this, we were planning to have the next “How to Use Your Telescope” section of the Beginners Class on the first Friday in November (that is, the 5th) which is the regular meeting time for the Beginners Class. Since then, based on feedback we've gotten from others, Antonio Miro and I decided to move it to the first Beginners Class after Christmas, which will be on January 7, 2005. We'll need volunteers then to come help out with this session – so please put it on your calendar and plan to come if you want some help with a telescope, or if you want to help out others who need some assistance in getting their ‘scope to work and in finding things with it. We always have a lot of fun with this class, which (weather permitting) often is like a small-scale star party.

As usual, it will formally start at 7:30 p.m., and will be on the grounds of the Centennial Heritage Museum, both in the classroom at the back of the property and in the parking area around the classroom. The museum is at 3101 W. Harvard St., Santa Ana, just west of Fairview Ave., between Edinger and Warner. If you have any questions about this event, please contact Antonio Miro, Jim Benet or me.

In Closing…

Don’t forget that Daylight Savings Time is officially over in the early morning hours of October 31 this year – just in time for the Trick-or-Treaters. If you have a “GoTo” telescope and it starts acting strange around then, or the next time you fire it up after that night, it may not have made that transition successfully. It always seems to be a challenge if I’m running the Kuhn during that transition…