The Western Amateur Astronomers is proud to present Timothy B. Hogle with the 2022 G. Bruce Blair Award for his longstanding engagement with and service to the amateur astronomy community.
Tim has been an active amateur astronomer for over 60 years. He got hooked after building a 3” reflecting telescope at age 12 and saw Saturn and Jupiter in the Milky Way at first light. He has ground mirrors for and built several telescopes of apertures up to 16” since then, also getting involved in film astrophotography, eclipse chasing, and asteroid and comet hunting. But he has returned to his roots as a visual observer in recent years, preferring to challenge his visual skills on faint galaxies and nebulae. His current preferred instrument is a very convenient and portable 18” Dobsonian.
He regularly travels as far from the lights of Southern California as possible to be able to see those faintest of fuzzies. His favorite target is Pluto (still a full-fledged planet in his eyes), which he has consistently tracked and documented every year since before its 1989 perihelion. And his current mission is to observe and study as many NGC, IC and PK objects as possible (and whatever else might be shown on a detailed sky atlas).
Interest in astronomy served to guide Tim’s career choices as well. After achieving a BSEE degree and spending a few years as a Naval Flight Officer, he had an opportunity to take on a 4-year stint at JPL with the Voyager mission to Jupiter and Saturn. He enthusiastically embraced that position, and as the Flight Team gradually decreased staffing levels from more than 350 engineers to about a dozen over the next 27 years, Tim was asked to stay on, eventually becoming the senior systems engineer for the project and working on nearly every aspect of the mission.
Tim is one of the founding members of the Orange County Astronomers, and the only one currently active. OCA is one of the largest astronomy clubs in the world. He was part of the team that designed the club’s 22” Kuhn telescope in the early 1980s, now on the club’s observatory site near Anza, CA. Among many other responsibilities, he has been the club’s representative to WAA from 1982 until about 2018. Tim has also been vice president of WAA since 2013.
Sharing astronomy has been a big part of Tim’s life experiences. At astronomy gatherings he is always quick to entice people with views of Pluto or whatever else he might be looking at through whatever scope he happens to be using.
While at JPL, he presented frequent lectures about the Voyager mission, sharing and occasionally surprising audiences with the personal excitement and insight he gained from working in the trenches of mission operations with an astronomer’s perspective. He has continued to do this to a lesser extent since retiring in 2006, but is just as passionate for the continued success of the Voyager mission as he ever was while working. Both Voyager 1 and 2 continue on what likely is their last decade of activity, far exceeding NASA’s original four-year expectation to possibly beyond 50 years duration.
In spite of his high tech career, Tim prefers to maintain a relatively simple lifestyle. He still drives a 35-year old car and 41-year old motorcycle and uses a flip phone.