President’s Message – September 2002

Posted On September 1, 2002

AstroImage 2002 - Don't Panic!

As I write this month's letter for the Sirius Astronomer I find myself in a world of semi-controlled panic. How does that saying go? "Time is nature's way of making sure everything doesn't happen all at once". Right now I feel that everything IS trying to happen at once.

After an incredible amount of dedication and planning by some outstandingly committed OCA members we are all just about to experience AstroImage 2002. The planning and preparation for this 3-day event has been truly phenomenal. By the time the Sirius Astronomer reaches you the conference will have been completed. Therefore I think it entirely appropriate that I formally thank everyone who has been involved with making the conference the success it has been. I know that many of the AstroImage conference planning committee really don't like to see their names "up in lights" - but I am afraid that I must give credit where credit is due. Please join me in personally thanking the following OCA Members for the truly exceptional dedication to this club and what it is all about.

photo by Dave Kodama and Greg Pyros

Garth Buckles, Dave Kodama, Greg Pyros, Pat Stoker,
Darren Thibodeau, Bill Patterson, and Stephen Eubanks.

This core group from the OCA AstroImagers have been meeting practically every single week for the past year. Their aim was to create the premier event on AstroImaging that all others will be compared to. They have undoubtedly achieved their goal.

In addition, other members have helped out for specific elements of the conference development including Matthew Ota, Barbara Toy and Charlie Oostdyk. Numerous members also volunteered to help out with the many on-site activities at the conference including refreshments, shirt and hat sales, image gallery management, door monitors and much more besides. Thank you so much, your help has made the conference the success it was.

Upper Newport Bay - Astronomy Program

Another "happening" that added to my own personal level of panic at this time was due to the implementation of a new introductory family-friendly astronomy program that I ran at the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center in the Upper Newport Bay area on Friday August 16th. This was just a week before the AstroImage conference.

The OCA was approached by Grace Yick, a park ranger at the facility, to put on a simple introductory program that would attract visitors to their center. This 10,000 square foot educational facility has been built into the side of the bluffs on the north side of the Bay. It offers panoramic views of the Bay yet is nestled so unobtrusively that few people are aware that the Interpretive Center has already been built and is open to the public.

I created an approximately hour-long presentation I hoped would appeal especially to families with children. In addition to the presentation we had 5 of our dedicated outreach volunteers with their telescopes set-up outside to show the visitors the Moon and Venus (and whatever else could be seen through the thin and low clouds that had come into the bay).

I really had no idea how many people would turn up. The center often runs events that require pre-registration - but as this was the first one of its kind there was no registration required. In the end - by around 7pm we had their theatre filled to capacity with people standing (approximately 100 people I would guess). The program was designed to be very interactive with lots of audience participation - especially from the younger members of the audience.

I feel certain that we helped fan the flames of curiosity in Astronomy in many of the young and inquisitive minds that were there. A number of the families I spoke with will move onto our own beginners program hosted by Antonio Miro. Other people who attended will undoubtedly join up as members right away. Mission accomplished!

The September program will be on Saturday 14th at 7pm. I will need to come up with a slightly different program - as I know that many of those who attended this time are planning on returning.

For further details you can view the web page at /features/fa_newportbayAug2002.htm

The September OCA Meeting is on September 20th

I know that you will have no-doubt seen the many notices regarding the change in the date of the September OCA meeting. We are very sorry to have to do this - and it was unexpected. We do get free use of the Chapman facility and we are forever grateful that we have so few scheduling conflicts. When a scheduling conflict arises we try to publicize the change as widely as possible to ensure that no-one turns up when we are not there. See you on September 20th at 7:30pm!

Liam Kennedy
"every day we are connecting ever more photons of light from distant galaxies to the eyes, hearts, minds and imaginations of our members and others in our community.