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Alan Loceff

Published: Monday, January 21, 2013 at 4:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 21, 2013 at 4:03 p.m.

Alan Loceff, a longtime Santa Rosa resident and budding astronomer who volunteered at Sugarloaf State Park's observatory, died Jan. 12 in a Healdsburg care facility after a long battle with a brain tumor. He was 74.

A native of Detroit, he had lived in Santa Rosa since 1977.

Loceff had a strong interesting in science and worked in the physics laboratory at the University of Michigan doing computer programming and analyzing bubble chamber experiments.

An early computer programmer, when few people knew how computers worked, he moved to California and worked for Omron, which made personal computers, said his son, Nathan Loceff of Paris.

Loceff frequently traveled to Europe to lecture on computer graphics, his specialty, and worked as a consultant with what would become Pixar. He also was a consultant for Zucco Structural Engineers in Santa Rosa.

“He was always interested in science, astronomy and physics,” Nathan Loceff said.

For the past seven years, he was a docent at the Robert Ferguson Observatory, run by the Valley of the Moon Observatory Association, largely because of his interest in science and his love for teaching, his son said.

“One passion was teaching kids about science, that is one of the reasons that he loved being a docent at the observatory,” he said.

Association president George Loyer said Loceff had developed a specialty in digital photography, increasing the ability of the observatory's equipment to photograph the night skies.

“He learned everything to know about taking images with charged coupled devices, digital cameras that are designed for astronomy that make it easy to take long exposures,” Loyer said. “He became expert in that, improved our installation there by working hard to get high-quality images.”

As a computer consultant, Loyer said Loceff also was able to get companies to donate old equipment to the observatory, greatly improving the observatory's computer systems.

Loceff also loved the outdoors, including camping and backpacking, and traveling.

In addition to his son Nathan, he is survived by his partner, Georgia Stubbs of Santa Rosa; daughter Jenna Loceff of Santa Rosa; and brothers Fred Loceff of Florida and Michael Loceff of Seattle.

A funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Feb. 3 at Santa Rosa Memorial Park.

Donations may be made to the Robert Ferguson Observatory, Valley of the Moon Observatory Association, P.O. Box 898, Glen Ellen 95442.

—Bob Norberg

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