Well, we're really heading toward summer
now - Daylight Savings Time has begun! Warmer nights can't
be far behind, though, of course, they'll be a lot shorter
than those bone-chilling nights at the dead of winter. Those
who've seen Anza in the last few weeks have seen a great display
of wildflowers, which is the best we've had for a long time.
So plan to come early and check them out at the May 3rd Star
Thanks to the efforts of our editor,
Darren Thibodeau, who got the April issue of the SA put together
in record time, and to Charlie Oostdyk, who got the mailing
labels on all 700+ that go by bulk mail, stapled them, and
got them to the Post Office within 48 hours of the time he
got them from the printer, we really got to see how much better
a job the branch of the Post Office we're dealing with now
can do for us. According to the notices emailed to me, almost
everyone got their copy by April 2nd, and most got theirs
by March 31st. There were a very few that seemed to lag behind
the others for no good reason that I could see. It's too early
to say we've licked the delivery problems, but it sure looks
promising. I'm hoping that tracking deliveries for a couple
more months will help us deal with whatever remaining problems
Many thanks to all of you who sent
me the date you got your copy and your city and zip code.
Please send me that information again for the May and the
June issues. If you want
to send it by snailmail, please send it to the OCA mailbox,
P.O. Box 1762, Costa Mesa, CA 92628.
Thanks also to all of you who sent
comments with the delivery information. It's good to know
people actually read the President's Message! To those of
you who were kind enough to give me the credit for the improved
delivery time - the credit really has to go to Darren and
Charlie. I did pass the messages on to them, though.
If you want to help keep the Sirius
Astronomer on track, please consider contributing an article
or two. The more articles Darren has to draw on, the easier
it is for him to put each issue together within deadline.
And, as I said last month, there is a lot of different subject
matter you could talk about. If any of you would like to discuss
story ideas before you actually put anything down in writing,
or even while it's in process, Darren would be delighted to
talk to you, or you could talk to me, or to other Board members.
And I'm sure there are a lot of other people in the club who
would be happy to help you out, as well.
Darren needs material for the SA in
electronic form, so it's easiest for him if you email it to
him, and it's also easier
if you send it in Word format (illustrations can be included).
If you can't email it to him, please call him at 949/455-0323
about the best way to get your material to him.
I talked a bit about RTMC last month
- that's Memorial Day weekend (May 23-26) at Camp Oakes near
Big Bear City. This is THE Really Big astronomical event around
here, and, if you haven't been there yet, you should really
try to go for at least a day.
What can you expect? In its other
life, Camp Oakes is a Boy Scout camp, so the roads are dirt,
there are a lot of areas for tents and RV's, a lot of trees
and trails, and an overall rustic feel to the place. If camping
isn't your style, there are some dorms, and some shelters
that are open on one side with bunks inside - all of those
need to be reserved in advance, as they go fast. If you pay
to stay overnight (you can camp Friday through Sunday nights),
you would park near where you're staying, but parking is at
a premium, so most people don't move once they've got a good
spot, especially if they've got meal tickets or are otherwise
eating on site. The cafeteria food, by the way, is plentiful
and, though hearty rather than gourmet, eminently edible.
The meals are at set times, because they use the dining hall
for other events between meals, but that gives you a better
chance of seeing who else is there and meeting up with people,
so it's got some side benefits.
If you come for the day, you would
park along the dirt road going into the event area. If there's
a shuttle running - as I'm writing this, we don't know if
there will be - you can get a ride to a drop-off point near
the center of the events. If not, you would have to walk,
but it's really not too far and the surroundings are nice.
Be sure to bring sun protection (hat, sunscreen) as well as
cold-weather gear. Because of the altitude, the sun is pretty
intense during the day, and temperatures drop fast after dark.
So, what are the events? There are
a lot of different talks both Saturday and Sunday, lasting
well into the evening. There is the legendary Raffle both
Saturday and Sunday nights, after dinner, which is a highly
entertaining event unto itself. If you come, remember - the
OCA bunch hangs out in FRONT of the building (you'll see -
there's an element of competition between the back, the front
and the inside of the building. So remember, you'll want to
be in FRONT of the building. And better bring a lawn chair).
There are vendors lining the path
to the dining hall, vendors all along the route between the
dining hall and the telescope field, and all around the telescope
field. RTMC is known as a great astronomical swap-meet, so
individuals as well as manufacturers, retailers, etc., set
up shop and sell things off. Places like OPT use this to sell
off "shopworn" items or things that have just been
collecting dust in corners. If you like to shop, you can't
beat this event, and lots of people get really good bargains
(RTMC bargains are a great source of star party one-upmanship
for the rest of the year). Owner-made telescopes can be entered
in competition, and winners are announced at the time of the
Raffle. You can get supplies for making your own telescope,
get advice, and see what various telescope makers have been
up to. There are star parties every night, which gives you
a chance to wander around and see what everyone else has in
the way of equipment, and the on-site observatory will probably
be operated by Bill Hall again this year. And all this is
just the beginning - for more information, including information
on non-astronomical activities, please check the RTMC website:
Besides the shopping and the raffles,
THE big activity at RTMC is socializing - meeting new people,
seeing old friends, putting faces to people you've exchanged
emails with or heard about, finding out what everyone else
is up to, exchanging ideas, and so on and so on. You've got
a big, friendly crowd of people who all share an interest
in astronomy in one form or another, so it's really easy to
fall into conversations with people even if you don't know
anyone to start out with. So don't feel shy about coming,
even if those nearest and dearest to you don't want to come
If you feel at loose ends, come on
over to the OCA booth. We'll be selling off various donated
items, and can always use purchasers or help - or both. Helpers
in the booth do get the best chance to check out the merchandise
And, if you have any magazines or
books (of any type, not just astronomy-related) or other items
you want to donate to the club to sell at RTMC, please contact
our librarian, Karen Schnabel or me,
or bring them to the general meeting in May. And, if you'd
like to help out at the booth for a couple hours (or more
- we don't want to limit you!), please contact Karen or me.
RTMC is a great event - I hope to
see you there!