Hands-up if you did not make it
down to the Anza Messier Marathon? For those of
us that went -we might think that would be the easier
question to ask - rather than the other way around!
In other words - there were a rather
large number of us there! I don't think there can
be any doubt that we were successful in getting
even more people down to Anza for a somewhat chilly
March star party that have ever done before.
The following photograph - taken
by OCA Member Gregory Pyros - will give you all
some idea of how "friendly" everyone became
on the new pads in the football field area.
photo by OCA Member Gregory Pyros
Every square inch of the new pads were taken up
by people and their scopes. Now we have to plan
on completing the additional four pads left to go.
I met many people who mentioned
this was their first ever trip to the Anza site.
They decided to come down after all the efforts
we have been making over the past several months
to ensure that as many members as possible were
aware of this jewel available to all of us. Needless
to say - everyone who went - left with a very personal
understanding of why our Anza site is so great for
viewing - having shared the evening and the heavens
with many other like-minded and friendly people.
You may recall the OCA board decided
to invite interested non-members out to the Anza
site for the Messier Marathon. To this end - I managed
to drive one potential new member, Henry Diaz, down
to the site. He brought along his own Meade ETX
125 - and was most impressed by both our facilities
and the overwhelming support he received from other
members in helping him get to grips with some of
the trickier functions of his telescope. Henry found
out about us by searching for an astronomy club
in the Orange County area through the web.
I also met up with another young
new potential member and his family who I had been
communicating with for a few weeks about visiting
Anza. Matthew Strain is a very enthusiastic beginning
Astronomer who wanted to get a chance to experience
the Messier Marathon - and most of all look through
as many telescopes as he could. Below is an excerpt
from an email his mother, Elaine, sent me after
I was suprised to discover that,
above all the astronomical
things he did and learned, the thing that impressed
him the MOST was "how nice, friendly, and kind
everyone is here!" He went on and on about
Matthew is looking forward to one
day purchasing a Meade LX200 or similar telescope
and he spent much of the night looking through my
10" LX200 as we marked off our Messier Marathon
sheet to show our progress.
We also shared the evening with
Jennifer Garcia and her sister. Jennifer is the
manager of the Discovery Channel Store in Brea Mall.
We had been talking for some time about getting
her staff down to Anza to allow them to get some
first hand experience with the telescopes they sell
- and to allow them to truly understand the telescopes
capabilities. Jennifer brought with her some of
the entry-level telescopes from Meade - such as
the ETX 60AT. While we did not use these little
scopes for the entire messier marathon - everyone
was impressed with the capabilities of such a small
and inexpensive unit.
Looking on to some other club business.
I announced at the April meeting
the intention of the OCA Board to conduct an extensive
member survey. The following text comes from the
introduction to the survey - and will give you all
the background to why the OCA Board wants to do
As one of over 700 members of the
Orange County Astronomers - I want to thank you
for taking the time to help us (and you) by responding
to this survey. This is quite an extensive survey
and will require about 10 to 15 minutes of your
time. But we know that you will want to take the
time to carefully answer this survey - as the results
will help shape the future of this club for you.
The OCA has been around for over
30 years. During that time we have grown to become
a major force in the furtherance of the astronomical
science within Orange County. We pride ourselves
in not just being the biggest but also the best
astronomy club in the world.
We got here by building a club
based upon a very firm foundation of objectives
to further the science of Astronomy by all means
possible, by building a world-class observatory,
by providing research opportunities for members,
and by making this hobby of ours FUN and accessible
We know that we have many new members
in our club and we know that things don't always
stay the same. We want to make sure this club is
doing what its members most want and need in order
to allow everyone to get the most out of this fantastic
hobby. By filling out this survey you will be giving
valuable feedback to the OCA Board (the group of
11 members elected by the membership to run this
This survey is most efficiently handled if we get
each member to fill out the survey on-line using
a simple web-based survey system.
If you have access to the web -
you may fill in the survey by typing the following
address into your browser.
The OCA Board perfectly understand
that some of you will be unable to complete the
survey online - and we definitely do not want to
miss the opportunity of including your valuable
feedback and ideas. It will be possible to request
a printed copy of the survey - or to pick one up
at the May 13th OCA Meeting. We will then manually
input your responses as soon as you return your
"every day we are connecting ever more photons
of light from distant galaxies to the hearts, minds
and imaginations of our members and others in our
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