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National Capital Astronomers

About NCA

NCA logoServing science and society since 1937. The National Capital Astronomers (NCA) is a non-profit, membership supported, volunteer run, public service corporation dedicated to advancing space technology, astronomy, and related sciences through information, participation, and inspiration, via research, lectures and presentations, publications, expeditions, tours, public interpretation, and education. NCA is the astronomy affiliate of the Washington Academy of Sciences. We are also members of the Astronomical League, in fact NCA members helped form the Astronomical League a long time ago.

NCA has for many years published a monthly newsletter called Star Dust that is available for members. Besides announcement of coming NCA meetings and a calendar of monthly events Star Dust contains reviews of past meeting and articles on current astronomical events.

NCA is a very unusual astronomy organization. All are welcome to join. Everyone who looks up to the sky with wonder is an astronomer and welcomed by NCA. You do not have to own a telescope, but if you do own one that is fine, too. You do not have to be deeply knowledgeable in astronomy , but if you are knowledgeable in astronomy that is fine, too. You do not have to have a degree, but if you do that is fine, too. WE ARE THE MOST DIVERSE local ASTRONOMY CLUB anywhere. Come to our meetings and you will find this out. WE REALLY MEAN THIS!

Our Meetings

Monthly Meetings with Educational Presentations are Free and Open to the Public

NCA has regular monthly meetings September through June on the second Saturday of the month. Most meetings are held at the University of Maryland Astronomical Observatory in College Park, Maryland (directions/map).

Public transportation: Directions/maps to the UMD Observatory
Inclement weather: In case of severe weather (tornado/snow/impassable roads), a notice will be placed on the Observatory Website on the day of the meeting. (Be sure to refresh/reload the page to make sure you are seeing an updated page.)

Meeting Schedule for 2016-2017

Next Meeting Date: Saturday, 11 Mar 2017

7:30 pm at the University of Maryland Observatory on Metzerott Road.

Results from Hitomi- the Perseus Cluster and a Little Bit More

Speaker: Dr. Richard Mushotzky, UMD

Abstract: Clusters of Galaxies are the largest gravitationally bound objects in the Universe.

Before the tragic loss of the spacecraft, the Soft X-ray Spectrometer on the Hitomi/Astro-H observatory observed the Perseus cluster of galaxies, producing X-ray spectral data with unprecedented spectral resolution and sensitivity. I will briefly review the scientific impact of these transformational data on our understanding of both the physics of clusters of galaxies physics, and the physics central active galaxy in that cluster. I'll also discuss some of Hitomi's observations of other objects.

Bio: Dr. Mushotzky is presently a professor of Astronomy at the University of Maryland, and previously was a staff member of the Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics at the Goddard Space Flight Center.

He has been involved in numerous NASA X-ray astronomy missions. His roles include being a Mission Scientist on the team for the XMM spacecraft, an Interdisciplinary Scientist for the Chandra spacecraft, a member of the science working groups for the ASCA and Suzaku spacecraft, and co-chair of the science working group for the Astro-H spacecraft (which, on orbit, was re-named Hitomi).

He was the US project scientist for XMM from 1989-2009. He has been involved in over 410 referred papers on high energy astrophysics; those papers have been cited by other scientific papers more than 30,000 times.

He was a member of the National Academy of Science's Astro2010 Panel on 'Galaxies Across Cosmic Time', and was a member of the 2016 National Academy of Science's Mid-Decadal Review.

Dr. Mushotzky received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, and has twice received the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement. He has also received the NASA Exceptional Achievement Award, the GSFC Lindsay Award, and the Robert Goddard Award.

Weather-permitting, there will be observing through the telescopes after the meeting for members and guests.


Join Us for Dinner Before the Meeting

Telescope-Making and Mirror-Grinding

Telescope-making and mirror-making classes with Guy Brandenburg at the Chevy Chase Community Center, at the intersection of  McKinley Street and Connecticut Avenue, NW, a few blocks inside the DC  boundary, on the northeast corner of the intersection, in the basement  (wood shop), on Fridays, from 6:30 to 9:30 PM. For information visit Guy's Website  To contact Guy, use this phone #: 202-262-4274 or Email Guy.

Come See the Stars at Exploring the Sky 2017!

Please check back in early 2017 for the 2017 schedule.

Exploring the Sky is an informal program that for over sixty years has offered monthly opportunities for anyone in the Washington area to see the stars and planets through telescopes from a location within the District of Columbia.
Sessions are held in Rock Creek Park once each month on a Saturday night from April through November, starting shortly after sunset. We meet in the field just south of the intersection of Military and Glover Roads NW, near the Nature Center. A parking lot is located next to the field.
Beginners (including children) and experienced stargazers are all welcome-and it's free!
Questions? Call the Nature center at (202) 895-6070 or check: Exploring the Sky @ Rock Creek. Download the flier!

Date Time Targets of Interest
29 Apr 9:00pm
20 May 9:00pm
17 Jun 9:00pm
1 Jul 9:00pm
12 Aug 8:30pm
16 Sep 8:00pm
21 Oct 7:30pm
18 Nov 7:00pm
Exploring the Sky is a presentation of the National Park Service and National Capital Astronomers.

For NCA information by E-mail or phone

NCA Documents

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Updated by E. Warner on 5 March 2017.