Astronomy award goes to the Eklunds; ëstar partyí April 4th; Hench named ëPioneer Woman of the Yearí


The Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa has scheduled its Spring General meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 7th, at the Westchester Senior Center, 8740 Lincoln Blvd.

ìThe difference between the format of a general meeting and our regular board meetings is that in a general meeting, we can devote more time to hearing from the community,î said Neighborhood Council President Cyndi Hench. ìWe will cover a small amount of ëboard business,í then the meeting will be much more about hearing from the community as they help us set our priorities and identify our projects for the year.î

Hench said the board looks forward to hearing from the public about its priorities for the community and what key issues the Neighborhood Council should pursue ó education, youth sports, parks, traffic, public safety, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and development.

Information, (213) 473-7023, or


Westchester residents Laura Woodard Eklund and Bob Eklund were named co-recipients of the Clifford W. Holmes Award for a major contribution to popularizing astronomy in 2008 by the board of the RTMC Astronomy Expo, considered the nationís foremost annual conference devoted to amateur astronomy and astronomy public outreach.

In the 30 years that the award has been given, this is the first time it was awarded jointly and also the first time a recipient was a woman. Previous recipients include Ed Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory, and Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of Pluto.

In 1982, Laura and Bob were founding board members of the Mount Wilson Observatory Association (MWOA), a public outreach group for Mount Wilson Observatory. A past president of that group, Bob is currently its programs and publications chairman. He is known locally for the public star parties he organizes. Bob recently published a poetry book on the joys of stargazing, First Star I See Tonight, and is currently working on a second book, Winds Aloft. A professional writer, he writes a weekly column on space and astronomy, ìLooking Up,î in the Sierra Madreñbased newspaper MountainViewsñObserver.

Laura is a staff member in the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering at Loyola Marymount University (LMU), both in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and in the Health Professions Advising Office. She previously worked at Mount Wilson Observatory where, in 1981, she was the first woman hired as a telescope operator. At Mount Wilson, she contributed for more than two decades to the HK Project, a long-term study of sunspot-like activity cycles on other stars.



The community is invited to share a family evening under the stars from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, April 4th, with Bob Eklund and volunteers from local astronomy clubs.

ìWe will be pointing high-quality telescopes at the craters of the Moon, the planet Saturn, and stars and nebulae ó as well as watching a flyover of the ISS at 8 p.m.,î said Eklund, who works with the Mount Wilson Observatory Association on public outreach.

ìApril 4th has been designated by the United Nations as the Global Star Party ó when people all over the world will be looking through telescopes, often for the first time in their lives. Our star party is part of this global adventure.î

The free event will be held in the parking lot of the Christian Science Church, 7855 Alverstone Ave. (at 79th Street), Westchester. In case of clouds, the event will be held Saturday, April 11th at the same time and place.

ìAll ó especially children ó are welcome to enjoy the views and learn about the sky from our knowledgeable astronomers, and if you have a telescope of your own, we encourage you to bring it,î said Eklund.

For more information, (310) 216-5947.


Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl recently recognized Cyndi Hench, president of the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa, as Council District 11ís Pioneer Woman of the Year.

Hench has volunteered her time to promote public safety throughout the entire community of the 11th District. Born and raised in the South Bay community of Hawthorne, the Westchester resident has taken her passion for service and her devotion to the welfare of others and translated that into a commitment to prevention, preparedness, intervention and recovery, Rosendahl said.

Her genuineness and depth of character provided the foundation for her mentoring of numerous block captains for the Neighborhood Watch program. As an active and avid Los Angeles Police Department volunteer, she serves as the assistant co-chair for the Community Police Advisory Board.

Hench has coordinated the LAFD Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training; the Fire Safety and Preparedness Forum in Brentwood; the Earthquake Preparedness Forum in Westchester; womenís self defense classes; LAFD disaster awareness courses; burglary prevention classes; emergency kit preparedness fairs; and served as the volunteer coordinator for the Great Southern California ShakeOut.

ìWhatever the project or endeavor, Cyndi brings to it the power and purpose of the individual; her belief is that the community is the servant of the individual, with each individual a source of progress for their community,î Rosendahl said.

ìHer major contribution to Council District 11 has been the contribution of herself; her infectious spirit of enthusiasm, her willingness to submerge her own ego for the sake of a well-done project, and, in the words of American historian James Truslow Adams, ëa sense of unlimited energy face to face with unlimited resourcesí ñ all in answering her call to public service.î