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August 2000 Presidents Message

State of the Club Telescope - Part One

Over the past several months I have indicated in both my president's letters and at club meetings that the Kuhn 22" club telescope has been put into working condition and is now available for use by club Star Members. It has been an exhausting but gratifying process to reach this point. However, as Lao-tzu said a few years ago "a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step". The more we work with the Kuhn the more we realize that full dependable functionally is a journey that has some distance to go. We have taken more than the first step but our destination is not just around the corner. Here are the details.

When I became President of OCA, the board and I asked Bob Gill to serve as telescope custodian and to conduct a survey of the telescope and observatory. We wanted to know what was needed to bring the building and instrument into fully functional use by any and all Star Members (remember that to operate the club telescope you must become a Star Member which involves training and the payment of a one time fee to help maintain the telescope). Bob's initial survey identified a number of problems with the telescope both in its physical operation and in the software and firmware for controlling the telescope. A technical support group consisting of John Hoot, Minor White, and myself was formed to work under Bob Gill to affect the repairs and improvements needed to get the telescope operational. Additionally Bob oversaw a general cleaning up of the observatory.

As of the beginning of July the telescope has been restored to good working order for visual work. This involved work on the telescope itself as well as significant work with the software/hardware interface. At the beginning of July, our Star Member Trainer, Chuck Lodoza was brought up to speed on the changes and is now in the process of retraining Star Members on the new system. Once a Star Member is retrained he/she will receive the new passwords to enter the observatory and access the telescope's computer interface. If you are a Star Member and have not been retrained then please contact Chuck Lodoza or Bob Gill as soon as possible. We need Star Members to step up and retrain as we are getting increased requests for use of the telescope by local educational groups. Our Star Members are an essential link between the public and astronomy education at our Anza Observing Site. We depend on our Star Members to fulfill this important educational role.
As I said, this is a journey, and we have a long way to go. While the telescope works well visually, there is still much to be done to make the telescope a dependable research instrument. Anyone using the Kuhn for research in the past has had to spend a significant amount of his/her time getting the telescope to function, much less acquire usable data. As you well know, Myke Collins and Minor White have been using the telescope in the ASROC program of asteroid discovery, but they have had to fight problems with the telescope that has reduced their potential discovery rate. We are moving forcefully to deal with those problems.

The technical support group, spearheaded by the Herculean-like efforts of John Hoot, has the goal of making the Kuhn telescope a "world class" research instrument that any OCA member with a good observing program can use to do significant research. Our goal is that his/her task and challenge is the research itself, not telescope repair and maintenance.

Next month I will detail the work that is being done to reach this goal.

"The goodness of the night upon you"
Othello Act 1 Scene 2

Russell Sipe

Prior Presidents Messages
 July 2017 President's Message
 June 2017 President's Message
 May 2017 President's Message
 April 2017 President's Message
 March 2017 President's Message
 2012 OCA Board Election Results
 April 2010 President's Message
 February 2010 President's Message
 January 2010 President's Message
 November 2009 President's Message
 October 2009 President's Message
 September 2009 President's Message
 August 2009 President's Message
 July 2009 President's Message
 June 2009 President's Message
 March 2009 President's Message
 May 2008 President's Message
 June 2008 President's Message
 July 2008 President's Message
 August 2008 President's Message
 September 2008 President's Message
 October 2008 President's Message
 November 2008 President's Message
 December 2008 President's Message
 January 2009 President's Message
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 April 2008 President's Message
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 February 2008 President's Message
 January 2008 President's Message
 December 2007 President's Message
 November 2007 President's Message
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 September 2007 President's Message
 August 2007 President's Message
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 April 2007 President's Message
 March 2007 President's Message
 January 2007 President's Message
 December 2006 President's Message
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 March 2006 President's Message
 Around OCA for February, 2006
 February 2005 President's Message
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 December 2004 President's Message
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