Sunday, 23 June 2024


Veterans Circle at Hartley Cemetery will be the site of a special holiday ceremony Saturday. Courtesy photo.



LAKEPORT – A special ceremony to honor the county's veterans will be held this Saturday.

For the first time, Christmas wreaths will be laid at the Veterans Circle at Hartley Cemetery at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15. The ceremony will take place concurrently with wreath-laying ceremonies around the country that day, scheduled for noon Eastern Standard Time.

Lakeport resident Slick Hultquist is working with local veterans groups on the Saturday ceremony.

Hultquist recently heard about the Worcester Wreath Co. – based in Harrington, Maine – which each year supplies wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery.

The company's Web site reported that the effort began in 1992; each year they supplied more than 5,000 wreaths to adorn the headstones of fallen veterans.

In 2006, the company launched Wreaths Across America, and began doubling its wreath donation to Arlington, now sending 10,000 each year, its Web site reported.

Besides the Arlington wreaths, the company reported that beginning in 2006 it donated another 2,500 wreaths to the Maine Veterans Cemetery at Togus, and more than 1,800 ceremonial wreaths to more than 200 other state and national veterans cemeteries across the country.

This year, the company reported that it added 24 veterans cemeteries on foreign soil and US ships sailing in all seven seas to their donations.

On Dec. 10, 51 wreaths were donated for special wreath-laying ceremonies at each state capitol and the US Capitol, according to the company.

Hultquist said he emailed the company and sent a picture of Veterans Circle. Hultquist then got a call back from the company.

“They said they were so impressed that they're sending us seven [wreaths],” said Hultquist.

The wreaths were due to arrive Wednesday.

Hultquist said the ceremony will be informal. He will lay a wreath at the base of the flagpole, and a member of each of the military's five branches also will lay a wreath during the Saturday ceremony, he explained. A bugler will then play “Taps.” United Veterans Council Chaplain Woody Hughes also will lead a prayer.

“It's basically a show of respect,” said Hultquist.

All of the local veterans groups have been invited to participate, said Hultquist.

Dean Gotham, president of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 951, said Thursday his group will be represented at the morning ceremony, and he anticipates other local veterans groups also will take part.

Veterans Circle, said Gotham, was dedicated on Veterans Day 2006.

Originally meant to be a final resting place for indigent vets, Gotham said the rules for burial in the special area have since been changed. Restrictions on indigent status were so strict that nobody could qualify, he said.

No one has yet been buried there, he said. However, under the new rules, it is open to all veterans, but is for cremated remains only.

Hultquist said he plans to organize a wreath laying next year as well.

Hartley Cemetery is located at 2552 Hill Road East in Lakeport.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




LAKEPORT – State officials are conducting their own investigations into the activities of a parolee who is accused of a Nov. 20 murder in Lakeport.

Construction worker Ivan Garcia Oliver, 29, is facing a murder charge for the Nov. 20 death of 67-year-old Michael Dodele at the Western Hills Mobile Home Park in Lakeport.

A week after Dodele's murder, Oliver and his half-brother were indicted on federal charges for a March 2005 hazardous dumping case in San Diego County, as Lake County News previously reported.

Oliver was on parole at the time of both alleged incidents, which has triggered a state parole investigation into alleged parole violations, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

That investigation, in turn, has revealed more information about Oliver's background and whereabouts in the last few years, up until days before the murder.

Oliver was sent to prison in July 2003 after being convicted of assault with force causing great bodily injury, according to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation records. Those records did not include specific information on the offense or what kind of weapon, if any, Oliver may have used.

Although he was sentenced to four years in prison, Oliver was released on parole in February of 2005, said Jerome Marsh, a state parole spokesman for Region 4, which covers Southern California counties including San Diego, where Oliver was convicted of the crime.

Marsh said Oliver was released from the California Rehabilitation Center, a medium-level facility in Norco.

Oliver was required to make monthly reports to the El Cajon parole office, said Marsh. His parole was due to end next February.

Marsh said Oliver had been making those monthly reports; in fact, he last reported, in person, to the El Cajon office on Nov. 13, exactly one week to the day before the Dodele murder.

Oliver's last legal residence was in San Diego County, said Marsh. According to the terms of his parole, Oliver wasn't supposed to travel 50 miles from his residence or leave San Diego County without permission.

Oliver's arrest in Lake County, where he wasn't cleared to be, triggered a parole violation charge, said Marsh.

Marsh said Oliver signed an “optional waiver” on Tuesday, which says he agrees to accept a 12-month sanction making him ineligible for parole. If he's released on the murder charge, Oliver could request a parole violation hearing on the matter, Marsh added.

Parole violations only bring, at most, 12 months back in prison, said Marsh, although in Oliver's case it's a moot point because he's being held for Dodele's murder.

As to what Oliver was doing in Lake County in violation of his parole, Marsh said parole officials are investigating the matter. In particular, they suspect he may have been coming and going between San Diego and Lake counties for some time, since he had a residence at the Western Hills Mobile Home Park in Lakeport. That's where he was arrested after Dodele's stabbing death.

“It's not uncommon for parolees to want to play the address game,” said Marsh.

With Oliver accused of the hazardous dumping charge in March 2005 – just a month after his release from prison – Marsh said parole officials are now investigating that as a parole violation as well. “We'll be submitting the hazardous waste incident as a supplemental charge.”

The materials Oliver and his half-brother allegedly dumped were large quantities of acrylic paint that contained toluene, according to court documents. Toluene is a highly toxic solvent reportedly used in methamphetamine manufacture.

Asked if the materials were being used to make meth, Marsh said, “That's the first thing that always crosses our mind.”

While Marsh said there is no evidence at this point to indicate that meth manufacture was involved, “Our suspicions generally go in that direction and most of the time we're right.”

District Attorney addresses speculation

Oliver's case has received growing attention because of reports that he attacked Dodele because of Dodele's listing on the state's Megan's Law Web site.

Dodele was convicted in Sonoma County in 1988 of rape and oral copulation, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff, who issued a statement on the case in an effort to clear up speculation that Dodele was attacked because of the Megan's Law listing.

Not all of those listed on the Megan's Law Web site were convicted of offenses involving children. Such was the case with Dodele, according to Hinchcliff.

However, the Megan's Law listing – which was taken down Nov. 26 by the California Attorney General's Office – listed Dodele's offenses as 261(2), “rape by force,” and 288a(c), “oral copulation with person under 14/etc. or by force/etc.”

Explaining the ambiguous wording on the second charge, Hinchcliff said that 288a(c) can be violated in one of three ways: by performing the act on a person who is under 14 years of age and who is more than 10 years younger than the suspect; when the act is accomplished against the victim’s will by means of force or violence; or when the act is accomplished against the victim’s will by threat to retaliate against the victim or another person.

Hinchcliff said he obtained information from Lake County Sheriff's investigators that confirmed that Dodele's charge involved a 37-year-old woman.

“We have no information or evidence that Michael Dodele was ever arrested for, accused of, or convicted of a crime involving child molestation or child sexual assault,” said Hinchcliff.

Hinchcliff said Oliver will be in court on Jan. 7, 2008. At that time a preliminary hearing is expected to be scheduled.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LAKE COUNTY – A man being held for a November murder has been indicted by the US Attorney's Office for allegedly dumping hazardous waste in a 2005 incident in San Diego County.

Ivan Garcia Oliver, 29, is charged with the Nov. 20 murder of 67-year-old Michael Dodele.

Oliver's legal problems have grown since the alleged attack.

A week after Oliver is alleged to have stabbed Dodele to death in his trailer at the Western Hills Mobile Home Park in Lakeport, the US Department of Justice indicted Oliver, according to court documents obtained by Lake County News.

Charges filed against Oliver include conspiracy and aiding and abetting co-defendant Guillermo Garcia of El Cajon in dumping hazardous wastes in San Diego County, court records show. In addition, Garcia is facing a charge for failing to report a release of a hazardous substance.

Shortly after Oliver was arrested for Dodele's murder, the Lake County Sheriff's Office discovered that Oliver was on parole out of San Diego County, as Lake County News previously reported.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation staff told Lake County News that Oliver has been on parole since February of 2005 on a charge of assault with force causing great bodily injury. He had not been legally cleared to be out of San Diego County, officials reported.

According to the indictment, Garcia and Oliver allegedly agreed on March 30, 2005, to dispose of Plasti-Kote acrylic paint by dumping the contents of five 55-gallon drums into Slaughterhouse Canyon Creek in San Diego County.

The paint the men allegedly dumped contained toluene, a highly toxic petroleum-based solvent used in manufacturing paints that's also used as paint thinner, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Short-term exposure to toluene can cause minor nervous system disorders, while long-term exposure can result in conditions including speech and sight impairment, and liver and kidney damage, according to the EPA.

A statement from the US Attorney of the California Southern District alleges that the two men dumped the hazardous materials into the creek and onto the ground near it at night “in order to save the time and money required by lawful disposal.”

The US Attorney's Office alleges that Garcia lied to authorities responding to the incident on March 31, 2005, telling them there ha been an accidental spill of between 20 and 30 gallons.

Garcia was arraigned Nov. 29 in federal court in San Diego before Magistrate Judge Anthony J. Battaglia, at which time he pleaded not guilty to the charges, the US Attorney's Office reported. He's next scheduled to appear in court before Judge Irma E. Gonzalez on Jan. 7, 2008.

If convicted of all charges, Garcia could face maximum fines and penalties of more than $500,000, plus as much as 16 years in prison. He has been released on $20,000 bail.

Meanwhile, the US Attorney's Office has applied for a writ of habeas corpus to have Oliver brought from the Lake County Jail to San Diego for a court appearance later this month.

A federal judge signed the writ, filed Dec. 5, which orders the warden of the Lake County Jail and the US Marshal for the district to have Oliver in court for arraignment before Magistrate Judge Leo S. Papas at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 21.

The writ calls for Oliver to be returned to Lake County after the arraignment is held.

That should put him back in Lake County in time for a Jan. 7, 2008 court appearance he is scheduled to make in the Dodele murder, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff.

Hinchcliff said he expects a date for a preliminary hearing to be set at that Jan. 7 hearing for Oliver, who was last in Lake County Superior Court on the Dodele case on Nov. 30.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


UKIAH – A Lake County woman was arrested Thursday after authorities allege she caused a crash while driving intoxicated.

The California Highway Patrol reported that officers arrested Natalie Reed, 27, of Kelseyville for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The CHP reported that Reed was driving her 1999 Volvo eastbound on Highway 20 near Ukiah when her vehicle crossed into the highway's westbound lane.

As a result Reed collided head on with a 1975 Ford driven by 55-year-old Luis Miranda of Fort Bragg, the CHP reported.

Both Reed and Miranda were transported to the Ukiah Valley Medical Center.

Miranda sustained major injuries as a result of the collision and was admitted to the hospital, according to the CHP.

The CHP reported that Reed, who was uninjured, was arrested for driving under the influence and booked into the Mendocino County Jail.

The collision remains under investigation by the CHP.

Both drivers were wearing their safety belts, the CHP reported.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LAKEPORT – A potential breach of Sutter Lakeside patient records has put the information of an estimated 45,000 people at risk, hospital officials reported Monday. {sidebar id=45}

The statement from Sutter Lakeside followed a Dec. 6 letter sent to the thousands of patients in question, informing them of the data breach, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Lake County News.

Sutter Lakeside spokesman Mitch Proaps said Monday that a laptop computer containing personal and medical information of certain former patients, employees and physicians was stolen from the residence of a man working as an information technology contractor on Nov. 18.

The information on the laptop included names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth and Social Security numbers, said Proaps. “There were a small number that included insurance billing and health diagnosis information as well,” he added.

Most of the names were contained in a radiology system upgrade, one of a handful of hospital databases, said Proaps.

He said the hospital did not know how many of the affected individuals live in Lake County. The number of patients was high because it included individuals who had had both outpatient and inpatient care. This year, Proaps reported that the hospital had 2,600 inpatient discharges, with 82,000 outpatient visits.

“What we know about these names is the list dates back to 2005 and prior, but we don't know how far back prior,” he said.

Besides the unauthorized transmission of the information to the laptop, Proaps said, “At this time we have no knowledge of any misuse of this information.”

The theft, said Proaps, did not occur in Lake County, but another city, which he did not reveal because of an ongoing investigation. He said a police department in the contractor's city of residence is investigating the theft.

The contractor in question, said Proaps, was working with the hospital's information technology department on a system upgrade. The information, dating from 2005 and earlier, was to be transferred from one secure system to another as part of a system upgrade process.

Proaps said the contractor had authorization to access the information through a secure virtual private network.

“He was not authorized to transmit the data directly to the laptop hard drive,” said Proaps, because it takes the data out of the hospital's control.

The contractor did not explain why he transferred the information to his laptop, said Proaps.

Initially, hospital officials “had no reason to suspect” that the laptop contained confidential data; however, an internal review of archives confirmed the probability that the hard drive had contained personal information, according to Sutter Lakeside's report.

Once the hospital discovered that the laptop had contained confidential information, officials “immediately began taking steps to notify those individuals whose information may have been involved and to establish a hotline for people with questions.”

Proaps said Sutter Lakeside is pursuing a deductive investigation to determine just what was on the laptop.

The laptop was password protected; hospital officials reported that makes it difficult, but not impossible, for someone to break into the machine to access the patient information.

Sutter Lakeside emphasized that they have no reason to suspect the information on the laptop has been accessed or misused but have notified approximately 45,000 people of the incident via mail.

Proaps said Sutter Lakeside also contacted the Sutter organization's legal and risk compliance departments for guidance after the information loss was discovered.

While there is no mandatory reporting agency on such data breaches, Proaps said the hospital reported the situation to the Department of Health Services.

Sutter Lakeside Chief Executive Officer Kelly Mather said in a written statement issued Monday morning that the hospital is making every effort to address the situation.

“We work in an environment where protecting individuals’ information is absolutely as important as providing quality service and care. Storing this type of information on a laptop hard drive is at variance with our organization’s strict policies,” said Mather.

“We have discontinued our business relationship with the contractor involved,” said Mather. “To reinforce a secure data environment this day forward, we already have taken aggressive steps to provide additional training to our managers, to conduct audits of all portable computer devices and to re-evaluate our policies and procedures where appropriate. Additionally, we have ordered the latest encryption software and will be installing it on our computer devices.”

Proaps said the hospital terminated work with the contractor as soon as its investigation revealed that protected information was on the laptop.

The investigation into the theft is ongoing, said Proaps. Mather's statement noted that the hospital is “fully cooperating with law enforcement in hopes of retrieving the stolen laptop.”

Proaps said the most important thing for the hospital to do now is let people know of the potential breach and inform them of how they can protect themselves.

Although such a data breach hasn't happened in other parts of the Sutter organization, there are hundreds of such data breaches on an annual basis around the country, said Proaps. “But that doesn't comfort any of us.”

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit group that tracks data breaches, reports that more than 216 million records containing sensitive personal information have been compromised in security breaches across the United States since January 2005.

The group also reported that between 2002 and 2006, 478 laptops were lost or stolen from the Internal Revenue Service, with 112 of the computers holding sensitive taxpayer information.

In this month alone, several instances of stolen laptops at research and health care facilities and blood banks were reported, according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


MIDDLE CREEK – A head-on collision between two motorcycles resulted in major injuries Sunday afternoon.

The California Highway Patrol's incident logs reported that the off-road crash occurred in the Middle Creek area near Deer Valley Road just after 3 p.m. Sunday.

At least one of the riders had suffered major injuries, including a broken bone.

On Sunday evening, the CHP's Ukiah Dispatch Center has no further information on the crash or the individuals involved.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


WASHINGTON – On Wednesday night, Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA) voted to bring immediate tax relief to 23 million American families who would otherwise pay higher taxes under the alternative minimum tax (AMT), including 42,000 families in California’s 1st Congressional District. The AMT Relief Act (H.R. 4351) is completely paid for, meaning the tax relief would not add to our national debt.

“This Administration has presided over seven years of fiscal mismanagement: spending has skyrocketed, entitlements have expanded and taxes have been cut – without any regard to the bottom line,” said Congressman Thompson. “As a result, our budgets haven’t balanced, our surpluses turned into deficits, our national debt exploded and our borrowing from other countries more than doubled. If there was ever a time when fiscal discipline was paramount, it is today.”

This bill would extend the one-year AMT relief for nonrefundable personal credits and increase the AMT exemption to $66,250 for joint filers and $44,350 for single filers, ensuring that no additional taxpayers are liable for the AMT this year.

“The AMT was created to fairly tax multi-millionaires, not burden middle-class families,” said Thompson. “Congress is committed to making sure millions of Americans do not end up with a tax hike next year.”

In addition to a temporary relief from the AMT, the bill also provides additional tax cuts to an estimated 12 million families by enhancing the child tax credit. The bill lowers the income eligibility floor to $8,500.

“We pay for this tax relief by closing loopholes that allow tax avoidance for wealthy folks who move their money off-shore,” added Thompson. “And we take what we gain from closing that loophole to pay for middle-class tax relief.”

Although the end of the year is approaching, Congressional leaders have been in constant communication with the IRS to ensure that tax forms will account for the AMT relief and the 2007 filing season is as seamless as possible.


LAKE COUNTY – Federal and county officials have agreed to wait until early next year to transport a local murder suspect to a Southern California arraignment for federal dumping charges.

Ivan Garcia Oliver, 29, who is charged with the Nov. 20 murder of 67-year-old Lakeport resident Michael Dodele, has been indicted on federal charges of dumping hazardous materials in San Diego County, as Lake County News reported Monday.

Court documents filed last week by the US Attorney's Office's Southern District showed that federal officials intended to have Oliver brought to San Diego for a Dec. 21 arraignment on the charges.

However, on Monday Assistant US Attorney Melanie K. Pierson said the plans have changed.

A writ of habeas corpus that Pierson had filed to have Oliver transported was returned unexecuted, said Pierson. Instead, Pierson said a new writ for a different date is being filed.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff, who is prosecuting Oliver for Dodele's murder, said District Attorney Jon Hopkins asked the US Attorney's Office to put off the Dec. 21 arraignment so that it wouldn't interfere with the murder case's proceedings. “They've agreed to try to work with us.”

Hinchcliff said Oliver will be in Lake County Superior Court on Jan. 7, 2008, at which time he expects a preliminary hearing to be set in the murder case.

Oliver is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court in San Diego County on Jan. 30, said Hinchcliff.

In federal court Oliver is facing charges of conspiracy and aiding and abetting his half-brother and co-defendant, Guillermo Garcia of El Cajon, in dumping hazardous wastes in and around Slaugherhouse Canyon Creek in San Diego County in March 2005, according to court records.

Pierson said the two men worked for a company called Wagner Construction when they allegedly agreed to dump five 55-gallon drums of acrylic paint containing the highly toxic solvent toluene. The men allegedly dumped the paint at night in order to save the time and expense of properly disposing of the materials.

Court documents allege that Garcia subsequently lied to authorities about the materials, allegedly saying they had been spilled accidentally.

The month before the alleged dumping incident, Oliver was released on parole after serving time in state prison on a charge of assault with force causing great bodily injury, according to state parole records.

Asked if these federal charges could constitute a violation of Oliver's parole, Pierson said that will be a matter for the state to investigate.

The US Marshal's office agreed to transport Oliver to and from the San Diego appearances, said Hinchcliff, which will save local taxpayers the expense of sending the Lake County Sheriff's Office down to pick Oliver up.

Pierson confirmed that the US Attorney's Office will work with Lake County to coordinate Oliver's court appearances both locally and in San Diego.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Faded at Four lead singers Jon Foutch entertains the crowd at the Boodog Battle of The Bands. Photo by Brett Behrens.




SAN FRANCISCO – Faded At Four, a progressive rock band from Lake County, was among three bands selected Wednesday night in a preliminary round of competition in the Booodog Battle of the Bands.

The five-member band wowed the Bay Area crowd as the group had just 30 minutes in its alloted time slot to impress the judges as well as the patrons. The competition was held at 12 Galaxies, a club in the Mission District.

Opening the evening with “Awakening,” Faded flew through three more numbers before leaving the stage with the standing-room-only throng wanting more. Included in their performance was "Awakening," “They” and “Unhero” and "Denied."

The group also had a major advantage as a tour bus was chartered by local music enthusiasts wanting to attend the event. Nearly 50 fans made the three hour by bus trek to the southern part of San Francisco.

The winner of the competition will received a $1 million recording contract.

Faded at Four’s next step in the competition is Jan. 13, 2008, when they will once again take the stage.

The next round is scheduled for the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.


Faded at Four

CLEARLAKE – A funeral service to honor the man friends called Clearlake's greatest cheerleader will be held this Friday.

Bernie Edwards, a force in the community for 30 years who loved and promoted his adopted city of Clearlake, died Dec. 5 in his sleep, according to his family. He was 75.

Edwards' funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 14 at the Clearlake Elks Lodge, located on the corner of Crawford Ave. and Old Highway 53.

A visitation will be held prior and will begin at 10 a.m., according to his obituary. Jones and Lewis Clear Lake Memorial Chapel in Lower Lake is handling the arrangements.

Edwards retired from the Navy as a Lieutenant after 23 years. He moved to Clearlake in 1977 and stayed active in community projects.

Among his many recognitions are the 1999 Stars of Lake County Humanitarian of the Year Award, citizen of the year and past president of the Chamber of Commerce, besides being a tireless volunteer who served his community without hesitation.

For his full obituary, see our obituary section.


From left to right, Edge Wireless tower (cell phone lifeline of Lake County), Andy Weiss and Bill Rett (KPFZ's stalwart engineer), and to the right, the building which will house KPFZ's main transmitter, transmitter/receiver, and other audio gear. Between Andy and Bill, P&R roughnecks install KPFZ's antenna. Insert at bottom left, Weiss and Rett hold up parts of our hefty antenna system. Courtesy photo.

MT. KONOCTI – Rain, snow and ice couldn't prevent work from taking place on this past week on the tower for KPFZ's new high power station.

The community radio station's supporters hope to soon be broadcasting at full power from 88.1 FM.

Station Manager Andy Weiss reported that Mt. Konocti was muddy, cold and rather treacherous, but Bill Rett and Jack Olsen of P&R Tower in Sacramento made the trip for free to climb up the tower and install the antenna.

Weiss said it only took a couple of hours for the connection from the antenna and transmission line to be sealed, then the line pressurized with nitrogen, and checked for leaks. He said the pressurized nitrogen line keeps water from leaking into the cable “and water in the line is the death knell to a radio station.”

The next step up on the mountain is to install the transmitter, audio processor, and all the remote gear which controls the station's programming and transmitter from the studio in Lakeport, according to Weiss. That equipment is due to arrive shortly.

“But this was the completion of the biggest, hardest physical step in getting 88.1 going,” said Weiss. “Now, it's more brain than brawn.”

KPFZ is still in need of funds to complete its transition to high power. If you would like to help, contact Weiss at 274-2152 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


December skies at 9 p.m. on Dec. 15.

LAKE COUNTY – The planet Mars moves close to the Earth every two years. This is a function of its orbit around the sun.

“Close” is still pretty far away – about 55 million miles! When Mars is close, it provides an interesting object for telescope viewing.

This month, Mars will be close, and can be seen in the area of the sky shown in the December star chart. It will look like a bright star with a reddish hue.

Through a telescope, it is possible to see one of the polar caps and some dark markings on the planet’s surface. Here’s a picture of Mars I took through one of my telescopes when it was close in 2003.



Mars courtesy of John Zimmerman.


In December, there are some very beautiful constellations overhead.

There is Perseus, the hero in Greek mythology we spoke of last month.  That’s the constellation where comet Holmes appeared. Below Perseus is Taurus the bull. The brightest star in Taurus, Aldebaran, is reddish in color, and is sometimes called the “eye of the bull.”

Between Perseus and Taurus is the Pleiades, a small group of bright stars you can see with the naked eye. The Pleiades is sometimes called the “seven sisters.” An image of the Pleiades is shown below.


Pleiades courtesy of Andy Munro.

Finally, below Taurus, rising in the southeast is Orion, one of the most beautiful of all constellations.  Orion was a great hunter in Greek mythology. We’ll talk more about Orion in next month’s column.

For more information about astronomy and local astronomy-related events, visit the Taylor Observatory website at  

On Dec. 15, starting at 8 p.m., the observatory will be open to the public, and Mars will be featured, both in a presentation and in telescope viewing.

John Zimmerman has been an amateur astronomer for 50 years. He is a member of the Taylor Observatory staff, where, among his many duties, he helps create planetarium shows.


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