By Barbara Toy
As I write this, I’m still on an Outreach “high” from the Sally Ride Festival, one of our rare daylight outreaches, which was on Sunday, November 13. This festival is aimed at keeping girls interested in science, math and related areas during the vulnerable period from fifth to eighth grades, when a lot of girls tend to drop out of those areas of study. Dr. Ride herself is an active participant in these events, and I got to watch her in action at the end of the festival, graciously giving interviews to a number of people, including Larry Evans of the Orange County Space Society (see picture). OCA had a real booth at the “Street Fair” portion of the event this time in addition to around ten solar telescopes of different types (and one that showed Venus). I spent most of my time at the booth, answering questions and talking to the girls who were attending, their parents, some teachers, and even other exhibitors. Almost all of the girls who came by the booth had really good questions, and were genuinely interested in learning more – and they were all exceptionally well-behaved, even asking if they could take pamphlets and other materials I had out on the table before taking them. Besides the fun of dealing with the girls and other people attending the event, we had a lot of fun looking at the other booths and talking to the other exhibitors – our position was right between the booths for the Mars Society and Meade Instruments, and the Orange County Space Society was only two booths away, so we were well located among really compatible folks.
Last year we were clouded out through almost the entire festival, but this year the weather cooperated and so did the sun by providing a sizable sunspot and a good amount of activity along the limb. We were able to show different aspects of the sun through different filters, and we even had the two large prints that Dr. Tom Spirock, our November speaker, brought to the meeting to help illustrate his talk. Dr. Spirock generously gave them to Mike Bertin, who’s a docent at Palomar, to use in some of the events he does at Palomar, and they were a perfect addition to what we were doing for the festival. We had an excellent turnout of members with their equipment for this event, and I would like to thank Paul Kreitz and his wife, Don Lynn, Dan Iler, Val and Linda Akins, Matt Ota, Joe Busch, Arnie Grimm, Mike Bertin and Pamela Beach for their help (and if I forgot someone – I do apologize!).
This festival has been such a success at UCI that it looks like it’ll be repeated, so, if you missed it this year, keep posted and plan to come along next year – you won’t regret it!
Of course, we have a lot of outreach events going on this winter besides the Sally Ride Festival. During this season, most of them are at schools, and at night – so we can show the kids and their families at least the brightest objects in the night sky. Take a look at the calendar on the club’s website for the upcoming events, and plan to come to at least those that are near you – it’s a wonderful way to spend an evening, and we have it on reliable authority that the kids will be talking about it for months afterward. You can contact Jim Benet to be put on his email list for notices about upcoming outreaches, and you can talk to him, or me, or any of the regular outreachers if you have questions about what’s involved. Or just take a chance, come out, and see for yourself….
Turning now to slightly more mundane matters…
Board Election for 2006 –
Here we are at election season again – the OCA election, that is. This is the time when the Board of Trustees for the coming year is selected, and we all do our best to encourage new people to run for the Board. If you want to keep track of who’s running, please check the website – as Member Liaison, I’ve taken on the task of collecting nominations and I’ve posted a list of the candidates to date. I’ll keep that updated as I receive new nominations, and I’m also asking the candidates to provide campaign statements, which I’ll also post together on a single page on the website. I’ll be sending all of the statements that I receive by the December deadline for the Sirius Astronomer to Steve Condrey as well, to be included in the January issue of the newsletter.
As of this writing, all of the members of the 2005 Board are running again, with the possible exception of Tony Obra, and I’m very happy to report that we also have two new candidates for the Board, Alan Smallbone and Leon Aslan. Alan is a relatively new member of the club, but has been very active in the AstroImage group and has been providing the presentations at the AI meetings geared toward less experienced imagers. He’s also agreed to do the Beginners’ presentation on DSLR imaging for the AstroImage 2006 conference (something to keep in mind if you’re interested in learning to use a digital SLR camera for astrophotography!). He’s volunteered to help fine-tune the Kuhn, and is also participating on the Anza Site Planning Committee. Leon has been active with the AstroImage group for several years, and has provided presentations at the meetings and also served as co-chair of the group. I’m sure many of you are familiar with him through his imaging activities and his participation in the AstroImage email group, among other things. Both Leon and Alan would be excellent additions to the Board, and I’m delighted they’ve agreed to run.
For those of you who are interested in running for a position on the Board, you can email me to be added to the list of candidates (firstname.lastname@example.org), or you can be formally nominated at the general meeting on December 9. Nominations formally close at end of the December meeting, so be sure you get your nomination in before then! You can nominate other people by emailing me, but please be sure you have their consent – we once had a candidate who first found out he’d been nominated when he saw his name on the ballot. He was a good sport about it, but we don’t want that to happen again.
As I’ve said at length in various past columns, serving on the Board is a great experience, and gives you a perspective on the club and its operations that you can’t get any other way. Put that way, it may not sound all that thrilling, but it really is – you’ll learn about events and opportunities you wouldn’t be able to find out about any other way, and, if you take advantage of some of those opportunities, you’ll meet people you wouldn’t have met otherwise, and get involved in projects you might never have learned about otherwise. And, of course, as a trustee you get to play a major role in determining the future course of the club – and there’s incredible satisfaction in doing that job well. So – why wait any longer? Put your name out there and run for trustee! And, if you’ve served for a year on the Board at any time – consider running for President or Vice President!
As to the election process itself, I’ll finalize the ballot after the close of nominations at the December meeting, and you should be able to download a copy from the website shortly after that. A copy of the ballot will also be included in your January Sirius Astronomer, and ballots will be available at the January meeting. You can vote by mail (directions should be on the ballot), or at the general meeting on January 13, 2006. The election closes at the end of the January meeting, so make sure you post your ballot so that it’s postmarked no later than January 13, 2006, or put your ballot in the ballot box at the front of the auditorium at the January meeting.
I’m told that Bob Evans has been in charge of running the election process at the January meetings, verifying the ballots, and counting the votes for over twenty years, and he’s agreed to handle these important functions again for this election. We all owe him tremendous thanks for taking care of all of these election details and doing it so well.
The Presidency Revisited…
Even though I’ve rather enjoyed my sabbatical from the Board this past year, and I’ve been kept pretty busy with other club activities, after a lot of consideration I’ve decided to run again for President. My main reason for this is that my time away from the Board has allowed me to think about such things as Board practices and procedures from a broader perspective, and I realized that there are things I would like to do to improve member accessibility to the Board that I can do most easily as President. These include such things as establishing firm procedures so agendas are regularly posted on the website before Board meetings, making minutes of Board meetings more readily available to the general membership, and establishing a regular practice of reporting Board actions to the general membership. The President’s Message is one way this could be done, but I would be interested in suggestions others might have to make this an effective process that can be easily used by future Boards, as well as mechanisms to make sure that it does continue to be used.
I would also like to develop a regular process that will ensure that any member whose interests would be affected by a proposed Board action automatically receives direct notice of the proposed action and has a meaningful opportunity to participate in the discussion leading to the final decision. This has been done on a rather hit-or-miss basis in the past, but, as we increase the variety of activities that club members are engaged in, and as we increase the numbers of pads and observatories at our Anza site, among other things, we have ever-increasing numbers of members who could be directly affected by Board actions. Having a more formalized process will help ensure that rights of individual members are protected, and will also get more complete information to the Board as it considers these issues, which should lead to better decisions overall.
These are some of my goals, and I would be very interested in hearing what all of you think about these issues, as well as suggestions you might have for what could be done to help bridge the gap between the Board and the general membership. Of course, one of the best ways to bridge that gap would be for more members to get involved with the Board – as candidates for office, visitors at Board meetings, or even as volunteers interfacing with Board members. Most Board members are pretty accessible a lot of the time, and many of them can be found at Special Interest Group meetings or at Anza or Black Star Canyon for the star parties, and I expect that will continue regardless of who is ultimately elected for next year. It’s good to get to know at least some of the people who are deciding club policy, and talking to them about issues before the Board will often give you a different a perspective on the Board itself, what it does and why. Regardless of what happens with this election, the 2006 Board will be making important decisions that will affect all of the members in one way or another – so I hope you’ll take advantage of whatever information is available to learn more about your governing body and the issues before it, and that you’ll participate in meetings where issues of concern to you are on the agenda. We’ll all benefit if you do.
© Barbara Toy, November, 2005