I wanted to start off my March
message by recognizing the efforts of members of
the OCA's EOA group who have been making steady
progress on the development of the clubs MOCAT telescope.
The MOCAT is a project started in 1998 which will
provide access to a remotely operated telescope
from initially the warm confines of Anza House and
eventually possibly even via the Internet. In setting
up this project the EOA is utilizing skills ranging
from electrical design, software design, machining,
carpentry and hard labor in freezing cold conditions
from left to right we have
JV Howell, Curren (grandson of JV), Ken MacLeod,
and Craig Otis.
The photo above was taken at the
Star Party at Anza on February 9th and shows the
hard workers at the end of their days work. This
same night I had to close the club observatory after
only an hour of use as the wind was gusting over
50 miles-per-hour (and after last months "problems"
with the roof - I did not want to risk any damage).
If you check out the clubs Outreach
page on the website (http://www.ocastronomers.org/outreach/)
you will see just how busy this program is. Outreach
coordinator, Jim Benet, is always looking for more
volunteers so please do contact him.
For a view on what these are like
I wanted to share with you a couple of emails. I
received the following report from our Vice President
Tonight's outreach at Gauer Elementary
School was a great success. Our best estimate was
that we got about 200 people, starting with the
students it was set up for and their families. Then
some other classes joined, the teachers and other
staff who were around (including the custodians
at Jim Benet's special invitation) joined, and we
even attracted some people from the surrounding
neighborhood who wanted to see what was going on.
And even though the skies weren't cooperating all
that well (we were pretty well limited to Jupiter,
Saturn, the moon and Orion - though hardly at its
best) and the surrounding light pollution was really
bad, there were lots of "ooohs," "aaahs,"
heartfelt thanks, and no complaints. In fact, it
was a wonderfully courteous and enthusiastic group.
I think we had about 7 'scopes
(I didn't really count) and my binoculars, and everyone
was kept really busy the whole time, but the number
worked well with the flow of people. There were
lines, but not really long ones, and a number of
people came back for repeat views. One 4-year old
was truly mesmerized by the moon, and didn't want
to give up the binoculars - he brought his mother
back three more times for further looks.
So, it was another great one for
Jim and his crew. I know I'm feeling really stoked
from it - the ultimate in cheap therapy!
And the following from Jim Benet
Thank you, Barbara. I just want
to mention that I cannot take too much credit for
this as it was an outstanding effort by several
very dedicated volunteers. These include Kenneth
Baird, Maury Bennett, Tony Bill & Rosie Walcek,
Craig Bobchin, Bob Shanta, and Barbara Toy to whom
I am humbly grateful.
Continuing with this spirit, we
had another great Outreach program tonight at Lee
Elementary School in Los Alamitos. They too enjoyed
the seeing with expressions of "Wow",
"Oow", and "Ahh". I was particularly
impressed that most of the folks there actually
thanked us individually as they got through viewing.
They furthered their thanks with a $100 donation
to the OCA (which I will forward to our treasurer
as soon as I get a break from these Outreach programs).
Even the weatherman cooperated with us this time
with beautifully clear skies.
I agree with Barbara that we all
enjoyed these Outreach programs and they are an
"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."