September 2004 President's Message
By: Barbara Toy
September 14, 2004 12:08AM PDT
Views: 5961


Here it is September already – our very eventful summer’s over, a new school year’s beginning, the holidays will soon be upon us…  Among other changes marking the this transition, Explore the Stars and our other regular summer outreach programs are winding down and our programs with the schools are starting up, the summer constellations are further to the west each night, and the winter constellations are rising earlier.  And soon, at least at Anza, very hot days and comfortable nights will give way to more comfortable days and colder nights – so it’ll soon be time to break out the layers of warm clothing for nights out under the stars!

 

Fire Update:

 

I’m writing this the day after the August Anza star party, and I’m happy to report that sprouts are starting to come up from the roots of a lot of our burned vegetation.  By the time you see this, the area of our Anza site that burned should look a lot greener – living proof that the native plants are adapted to cope with regular fires.  Unfortunately, this year seems to be putting a lot more of the local vegetation to the test than usual – and we still have a lot of fire season still to come!  Even though, because of our fire, a lot of the fuel that had built up on our site is now gone, we need to be vigilant to minimize the risk of additional fire damage. 

 

To help with this, there are a couple of Anza site rules to remember:  No open fires on the site, and no smoking except inside your car (and, of course, all ashes and butts need to be kept inside your car).  To help remind people, Matt Ota has generously arranged for some custom signs, which you should see posted at several points around the site in the next few weeks.

 

Board Concerns:

 

Our next Board meeting is on September 26 at 5:30 p.m., with our usual potluck starting at 5:00.  I have a couple of reasons for bringing this to your attention – one is that, as I told the people present at the August general meeting, we have two major problems out at Anza that we need to take care of, both of them expensive.  The fire left two sides of our property open to easy access from almost any point on the adjoining roads, and also made it much easier to see what’s on our site from the road.  The fencing that was there in the past was in bad shape before the fire, and is now completely gone.  Before the fire, the vegetation in that section of the property was quite dense and provided a natural barrier; now that it’s gone, we need to fence that part of the property, a project that will cost several thousand dollars.  The other big project is the replacement of the roll-off roof on the observatory, which is in extremely poor shape.  We are planning to replace it with a metal roof, which would be a lot lighter than the current roof and also more fire-resistant and rodent-resistant, a project that is also expected to cost several thousand dollars. 

 

We expect to have more information about both proposals and  better cost projections by the time of the September Board meeting.  We need to move on both of these quickly, so we need to decide what we’re going to do in both of these areas and how we’re going to fund what’s approved.  Obviously, if you have any concerns about this, you should plan on attending the meeting.

 

The other reason for bringing this to your attention is that this is the last Board meeting before we start the nomination process for the 2005 Board.  If you have any concerns about how the club is being run, or if you are thinking even remotely of running for the Board (we welcome more candidates!), you should attend to see first-hand what goes on at the meetings and to voice any concerns you have about anything on the agenda or provide any information you have that might help the Board reach a better, more informed decision.

 

As I have said repeatedly, all members are welcome to attend these meetings, but you need to let me or Bob Buchheim know in advance that you intend to be there, as Bob’s employer, Lockheed Martin, is generously providing us with a conference room for our meetings, and advance notice of who is going to attend is one of the conditions for our use of the facility.

 

A Stroll Through Some OCA History…

 

You may recall that we are now developing an OCA Archive, with Jon Bearscove as our official Archivist.  In case you want to contact him about donating records, pictures, or other things that might be appropriate for the Archive, his email address is j.yoon@cox.net.  I’m the back-up contact, and, as a result, have had a bunch of ancient club documents turned over to me, especially old issues of the Sirius Astronomer.   It would be a pity to be given these things and never look at them – so I did, and found them quite a treasure trove!

 

I was first struck by the changing face of the newsletter.  The earliest version is “Number 1 (August 1970),” and was titled “OCAAA Notices.”  The club was originally the Orange County Amateur Astronomers Association, and was incorporated as an educational non-profit corporation under that name in 1972.  The name was changed to its current form by amendment to the Articles of Incorporation on November 1, 1974.  The logo on the first issue was a hand-drawn stylized drawing of two hills that intersect near the center of the page, with stars drawn in above them.  The second issue was called the “OCAAA Newsletter,” and that name was generally followed after that.  It had a logo of a hand-drawn representation of Saturn with three stars, which was used until April, 1971, when things became a lot more varied – several issues had unique drawings at the top, some had no drawing or logo at all, some returned to the Saturn-and-three-stars logo.

 

As of December, 1971, the logo settled down to varying renditions (all hand-drawn) of Saturn with the rings partially open.  With the January, 1972, issue, the name of the publication changed to The Sirius Astronomer, with the Saturn drawing appearing to the left of the name.  Then, with the January, 1974, issue, Saturn migrated to the back of the publication, which was obviously meant to be folded, stapled and mailed – but, unlike the current version, the format was a set of 8½ by 11-inch pages stapled in the left top corner, sometimes single-sided and sometimes double-sided.  Then, in March 1974, our familiar stylized galaxy logo began to appear – also on the back of the publication.  Finally, in November, 1975, our galaxy logo migrated to the front side, where it appeared between “Sirius” and “Astronomer,” which were now usually in typeface instead of being hand-printed.  In January, 1978, the newsletter switched to a booklet form, made by folding several 8½ by 14-inch pages in half, and it continued that way until at least November, 1987, the last issue in this collection.

 

Sometimes the editor is identified, but generally not in the early issues.  John Sanford appears repeatedly as a columnist, speaker, seminar or mini-course instructor, editor, and officer (President, Vice President, and many years as Correspondence Secretary).  Paul Alexander became the editor in March, 1975, Alfred Lilge became editor in March, 1980, and Phillip Goodwin in January, 1981.  John Sanford became editor again in April, 1982, and was still the editor as of the last issue in this set.  I don’t know if that continued throughout the 90’s, but I know he was the editor at the time he retired and headed off into the Sierras to build Starhome, when Chris McGill took over that position.

 

There are many different activities reported in the pages of these early journals, and some we might want to consider doing in the future (I like the idea of the “mini-courses,” which seem to have been quite a success – though I don’t know if any actually were taught other than John Sanford’s photography classes).  There were special trips, such as to Mt. Laguna to look for the Guggenshein.  There were outreach events at malls, events where people were charged some amount to look through a telescope as a fund-raiser, and, of course, talks, conferences, work parties and star parties. 

 

For me, there was a special bit of joy in a notice in the January 1974 issue, stating that Bill Hornaday was going to speak on “Building an Observatory”; his observatory is described as having “a 23 foot dome and a 16½” scope.”   Bill lived across the street from us during the ‘70’s and early ‘80’s , and was the first serious amateur astronomer I ever knew, the first person I knew who had his own observatory, the first person I knew who was excited about getting a mirror blank and grinding his own mirror, the first person I knew who was an eclipse-chaser – we all thought he was crazy.  I remember vividly how excited he was when he was hired by JPL to work on what is now the Hubbell (he made it clear to us later that he had nothing to do with the optics) – it was the perfect joining of his personal and professional interests.  Alas, I never saw his observatory out by Big Bear, nor the telescope he and his friends built with the mirror blank he showed us so proudly.   I lost touch with him when he moved out of the area, which was long before I got into observing myself.  I expect he would think it remarkably funny if he knew what I’ve been doing with the club these last few years.  If you somehow happen to see this, Bill – thanks for sharing your enthusiasm with us, all those years ago!

 

The moral of the story is – share your interests!  You never know when or how the seeds you plant will bear fruit, but shared enthusiasm can certainly help ignite interest, sometimes in the most surprising people!


| Search