San Francisco Amateur Astronomers Club Reports


AANC News by Jane Houston, Awards· Once a year the AANC recognizes special astronomers for their outstanding and continuous support in distinguishing and fostering amateur astronomy. The SFAA has a long tradition of awardees spanning the years. In fact the very first Amateur Astronomer honored was the SFAA's own Herman Fast, who blazed the trail of SFAA excellence in 1976. The list of awardees reads like a "Who's Who". The SFAA's Al Daggett in 1978. Leon Salanave in 1982. John Dobson in 1988. John Westfall in 1989. The SFAA has also been honored with Professional Astronomer awardees: Lew Epstein was honored in 1984, and Tinka Ross in 1993. The complete list is on the AANC website at and available in printed form at SFAA monthly meetings and star parties.

This 22nd year after Herman Fast was the first AANC Amateur Astronomer of the year, the SFAA has again been honored. Without further ado it is my pleasure to present the AANC Amateur Astronomer of the Year - our own Steve Overholt! Steve is being recognized for his lightweight giant telescope design. But also for his tireless promotion and fostering of amateur astronomy. Many of you have seen the wide range of reflector telescopes Steve has designed. Ranging from the 198 pound, 30 inch "Starship", to the 7 pound, 6 inch "Tinkerbelle". In between these two are 10 inch "Starbright" weighing in at 26 pounds, and the newest member of the family, 17.5 inch 59 pounder named "the Owl" - so named because it hunts galaxies the way owls hunt mice! Where can you see Steve sharing the universe with others? He's usually up on Mount Tam for the SFAA star parties with a couple of these telescopes as well as the SF city star parties or traveling the national parks such as Bryce Canyon or Yosemite offering public programs. Steve also observes with the West Marin Astronomy Club - in dark sites in Marin County, like behind the Swing Cafˇ in Lagunitas, and doing "bookstore" astronomy at the Book Passage in Corte Madera. Just a few weeks ago the author doing a book signing that night, Ann Lamott and son Sam joined Steve for first quarter moon views. Join me in congratulating Steve for this well deserved recognition!

The other 1998 awardees are: Professional Astronomer: Dr. Chris McKay of Nasa-Ames; Commercial Category: Tectron Telescopes - Tom and Jeannie Clark of Sarasota Florida; and Special Category: SETI Institute. I'll tell you about them next time.

Autumn Astronomy Day
The AANC. the umbrella organization for nearly 30 Northern California Astronomy clubs invites all astronomy clubs nationwide to join with us in celebrating an Astronomy Day in Autumn.

Autumn Astronomy Day - September 26, 1998, will be an opportunity for those with weather challenges, vacations, holidays or just bad luck or bad timing to celebrate astronomy and share our universe with the public! We'd like to make this an annual event - won't you join us? The Saturday nearest the September first quarter moon - is an ideal time to look up! It's our city Star Party night - so let's make a big show of support! And spread the word!

See our AANC website for regional club activities, venues and plans. Each club and observatory, planetarium or science center may schedule their own events, or include Autumn Astronomy Day activities in their ongoing programs.

We've already lined up the Ferguson Observatory in Sonoma County, Morrison Planetarium, and some AANC clubs to put on some programs. It'll be in S&T, Astronomy calendars - we'll make a splash!

Here is a chance to get back at the El Nino springtime big time, miss the traditional April/May weather problems we experience here in Northern California, and catch teachers and school kids at the beginning of the school year. Contact Jane Houston, AANC Autumn Astronomy Day coordinator at for information, publicity or ideas.

San Francisco Amateur Astronomers
- Dennis Tye detailed the speakers through December 1998
- Mount Tam Star Parties
8/22, Dr. Joe Jordan, Nasa Ames on Atmospheric Optics - Speaker
9/19, Dr. Isobel Hawkins, Center for EUV Astrophysics - Speaker
10/17, Dr. Lynn Cominsky, Sonoma State University - Speaker
- City Star Parties 8/29(club member speaks), 9/26 (dobson), 10/24 (club member speaks)
- -= Form Data =-

Autumn Astronomy event on 9/26
Address: City Star Party at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Held at the USS San Francisco Memorial Parking Lot on el Camino del Mar, just north of 48th and Point Lobos Avenues in San Francisco. Call the SFAA hotline (415) 566-2357 for weather out or cancellations news City: San Francisco ContactPerson: Toney Burkhart at (415) 668-9691 WebAddress: Webaddress:

Description Misc: Join the members of the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers and the Sidewalk Astronomers while they entertain the public with their telescopes on Autumn Astronomy Day September 26, 1998.

The program begins at 5:30 with a talk by John Dobson, SFAA Honorary Director, and Astronomy popularizer and birthday boy followed by a birthday party for JOhn and stargazing through a variety of members telescopes.

The SFAA in arrangement with the GGNRA hold monthly programs at the USS San Francisco Memorial parking lot on El Camino del Mar, just North of 48th and Point Lobos Avenues.

Point Lobos has plenty of free parking. And is easy to get to by MUNI. Take the Geary number 38 Point Lobos bus to the end of the line and walk two blocks to the USS San Francscio Memorial.

Tue, 28 Oct 1997


August, 1997 General Meeting:
Art Owens, SFAA member spoke on his activities observing our nearest star, the sun. Art, with his wife Chelle, the club treasurer, has been observing the sun for some time now and has aquired a H-Alpha filter to further his studies. They host weekend solar observing sessions at the Calif. Academy of Sciences where they demonstrate to the public the wonders on our closest star.

Sept., 1997 General Meeting:
Dr. Marc Davis, of UC Berkeley, spoke on the "Early Structures in the Universe". Dr. Davis presented results from his research on the cosmic background radiation and its effects on the early structures of the universe leading up to the formation of the galaxies as we see them today.

Oct., 1997 General Meeting:
Dr. Ken Croswell spoke on "Planet Quest: The Epic Discovery of Alien Solar Systems" the subject of his recently published book. Dr. Croswell covered the recent discoveries of extra-solar planetary system and presented background information of the scientific breakthroughs which lead up to these discoveries.

Nov., 1997 General Meeting: Members' night
November will be members' night where various members will be giving presentations on their astronomically related activities this year.
Jane Houston will give a presentation on her trip to Hawaii and the Keck telescope with John Dobson.
Lew Epstein will talk on his recent trip to the southern observatories
of Chile.
Bill Stepka will tell about his experience during the CUREA conference
at Mt. Wilson this summer.
November is also the month for nominations for 1998 club officers and we will be accepting entries for our 1997 Astrophoto contest.

Dec., 1997 General Meeting:
Dr. Virginia Gulick, of NASA/AMES, will give a presentation on the recent Mars exploration missions.

Jan., 1998 Annual awards dinner - no general meeting
Date and location to be announced

General meetings are held on the third Wednesday of the month in the Morrison Planetarium, California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Business meeting begins at 7:30 pm, Speakers start at 8 pm.

1998 Mt Tamalpais State Park star party schedule:

Jan 24 Alternate date: Jan 31
Feb 21 Alternate date: Feb 28
Mar 28 Alternate date: Apr 4
May 23
Jun 27
Jul 25
Aug 22
Sep 19
Oct 17
Nov 21 Alternate date: Nov 28
Dec 219 Alternate date: Dec 26


Club activities: Upcoming events: Other announcements:
Congratulations to Bill Stepka on his selection to attend the 1997
CUREA program at Mt. Wilson in August.

--Dennis Tye


San Francisco Amateur Astronomers
From: (Dennis Tye)
Club activities-
Our December meeting was members' night. Various members gave accounts
of their astronomy related activities for 1996.
January 11 was our annual banquet at Marin Joe's in Mill Valley. Awards
were presented as well as the installation of the new club officers.
1997 officers:
President - Nancy Cox
V Pres - Al Stern
Secetrary - David Weintraub
Treasurer - Chelle Owens
Awards: Herman Fast - Lewis Epstein
Service - Bill Cherrington, John Milosh
Astrophotography: 1st Place - Phil Lau
2nd place - Dennis Tye
3rd place - Carl Trost
Speakers for
March 19, 1997 :
Pedro Gil Ferrei, Center for Particle Astrophysics, Relics from the Big Bang
April 16: Janna Levin, CPA
Star parties for Oct - January have been rained out.