"Around OCA" for June 2005
By: Barbara Toy
June 5, 2005 7:01PM PDT
AROUND OCA By Barbara Toy
By Barbara Toy
Here we are at June and the summer solstice – nights are a lot shorter but are warming up, and we’re all hoping for a summer of good viewing after a winter of clouds and rain. It’s true that we’ve had some great displays of wildflowers after our extremely wet winter, but I’m not sure that’s made up for all the celestial displays we missed due to the weather.
There have been some recent events that have overtaken my original plans for this month’s column, so the continuation of last month’s topic will be next month, and instead I’d like to share some thoughts about one of our long-time volunteers, and tell you what’s happening in some other areas.
As I write this, Antonio Miro has just come through a lengthy and difficult surgery, and his many friends and loved ones have been faced with the real possibility of losing him. Events like this often make us take stock and realize that we haven’t given someone proper public recognition for their achievements and contributions – so I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you a bit about Antonio.
Our Beginners’ Class was started by Don French, and Antonio took it over about six or seven years ago, when Don was no longer able to handle it. Over the time he has run the Beginners’ Class, Antonio has developed its current structure and format, and has also written a very helpful series of outlines for different areas covered by the class (which you can download from our website). There are two cycles of the classes each year, and each class usually has from 15 to 25 students, so there are a lot of people around who learned the basics of astronomy from Antonio over the years he’s taught the class – this includes how to observe and with what. A lot of people got their first introduction to the club through Antonio’s classes, and later became members, though the main purpose of the classes is to help people learn the basics of our hobby and to share our interest and knowledge about what’s up there with the general public, not really to recruit new members.
One of the things I admire most about Antonio’s approach to the class is his willingness to incorporate new ideas to improve it – such as making the “How to Use Your Telescope” session a regular part of the class after our first experiment with it a couple years ago proved to be a tremendous success. Unlike many people who become territorial about something they’ve run for years, Antonio has always been very generous about letting other people participate, and about seriously considering suggestions for modifying the class and its materials. I know this from personal experience, as I’ve frequently discussed these with Antonio since I first went to the class well over two years ago and stayed on to help out.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to come to the class himself since his first surgery last fall, and, realistically, it will be several months before he is physically capable of actively participating again – and that is if he has no further complications. We miss him and look forward to having him back, but, in the meantime, Dave Pearson is doing a very good job with it. Because of his health problems, Antonio asked to be taken off of the club’s contact list as the contact for the Beginners’ Class, so the formal contact person now is Dave Pearson, and I’m continuing to assist.
Besides the Beginners’ Class, Antonio has been a regular at outreaches over the years – that, in fact, is where I first met him – and has frequently chauffeured beginners out to Anza when they were diffident about going on their own or didn’t have transportation. Many of them then learned about observing from him first hand, as they often spent a lot of their time at Anza observing with him through his home-built Dobsonian (Antonio built the drive system as well as the telescope), which increased their enthusiasm for the hobby. His health has limited all of his activities, and it’s been far too long since we’ve heard his charming accent at outreaches or club meetings, or his distinctive drive motors down on the Football Field…
Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery from your surgery, and no further complications, Antonio!
Over the years, the club has tried a several different arrangements for videotaping general meetings. The goal has been to have tapes available for members who missed the meetings or maybe wanted to see the talk again, as well as to have an archive of the meetings themselves. The attempts to do regular videotaping of the meetings had pretty much died by the time I joined the Board in 2001. The subject came up in Board discussions several times, but nobody had any good plan for doing continued taping until Liam Kennedy decided to add it to his many club projects. He started videotaping meetings with his own camera, and people who attended the meetings two or three years back may recall seeing Anna, Liam’s wife and a frequent contributor of time, energy and expertise to the club herself, running the video camera from the back of the auditorium through many meetings.
Liam gave the project an entirely new direction about two years ago when he began to develop the tapes of the meetings and other subjects of astronomical interest into the club’s own television show, “Look Up Tonight With the OCA.” Besides obtaining the raw material and producing the shows themselves, Liam developed the contacts with the local cable stations that allowed the program to be aired, and it was quite a success – but at a high cost in Liam’s time and energy. He recruited several club members to help with the taping during the meetings and what was needed at other locations (Tom Kucharski and Jim and Brian Norman have been particularly active with this), but the bulk of the work inevitably fell on Liam’s shoulders, as each TV show took days of editing.
In the meantime, Liam had started his own company, and the good news on that front is that demand for his services has been steadily growing and he is seeing some of the success he so richly deserves. The bad news for us is that he no longer has the time to produce the TV show. Even though he can no longer handle this himself, though, he’s available for consultation and undoubtedly will be as willing to share his expertise in this area as in the many other areas where he has put his creativity to work for the club in the past (such as the club’s website).
So, those of us in the OCA-TV SIG are working out new approaches to the video project – and this is a great time for you to get involved if you have any interest in video at all. Our immediate concern is capturing the meetings on tape – Jim and Brian Norman did a great job of handling the cameras for the May meeting, and we are hoping that there are a number of you who would be interested in helping out with that side of the project. Tom Kucharski has volunteered to do the editing of the tapes for the May meeting, and we would like to have other people who want experience in editing video – or maybe already have expertise in that area they’d like to use for the benefit of the club – get involved on the editing side, as well. We’ve been getting two camera angles, and also (when we can) the speaker’s slides on CD, so you can bring a lot of creativity to combining all of these to produce the finished meeting videos. And, if we can get a few good videos in reserve, maybe we can re-connect with the cable companies and go back on the air with the TV show…
To join us, please contact Tom Kucharski (TomRigel@aol.com or 949/348-0230) or me (firstname.lastname@example.org or 714/606-1825). You are also welcome to join our email group, which we use to coordinate our activities as well as for discussion of the various issues that come up with the project, email@example.com.
Somehow (I’m not quite sure why – Dave Kodama told me it was because of my “enthusiasm” and that I have “all that free time” since I’m no longer president…) I seem to be the designated person to chair the planning committee for AstroImage 2006. Well, I guess I’m enthusiastic enough to want to get things on track for our next imaging conference, as they do take a certain amount of planning. And, even though it’s more than a year away, we want to make people aware that it really is set and they should start planning for it.
So, we now have the dates for AstroImage 2006 – Friday night and Saturday, August 11 and 12, 2006 (this is a change from the dates I gave in the version of this article in the Sirius Astronomer - it turned out that the City of Brea had a conflict with the original dates that we didn't know about before that issue went to press). Be sure to mark your calendars and plan to attend!
Another reason for bringing this up now is that this is the time for you to let us know what you would like to see happen at the conference. If you looked at the schedule of events for either of the last two AI conferences and decided not to go because you thought it was missing something – let us know what that something was! If you came to either of the last two AI conferences and felt that things could have be improved on – tell us what those things were and (if you can) what suggestions you have for improvements. If you’ve become aware of an imaging-related topic that you would like to see covered at the conference – tell us what it is, and any suggestions you have for a presenter on the topic. And if you have any suggestions for activities you’d like to see added to the conference, we’re interested in knowing about that, too.
And, of course, if you would like to be involved in the planning of AI 2006, or would be willing to help us out with some of the many tasks that need to be done outside of the planning process itself so that everything will work right, please let me know – we’ll all be delighted to welcome you aboard!