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National Capital Astronomers

About NCA

Serving science and society since 1937. The National Capital Astronomers (NCA) is a non-profit, membership supported, volunteer run, public service corporation NCA logodedicated 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.

Public transportation: Directions/maps to the UM 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 2013-2014

Most meetings will be held at the University of Maryland Astronomical Observatory in College Park, Maryland.

Next Meeting Date: Saturday, April 12, 2014

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

Using Optical Interferometry to Study the Structure of Stars, Active Galactic Nuclei and Geostationary Satellites

Speaker: Henrique Schmitt Naval Research Laboratory 


With a few notable exceptions, resolving stars and their disks requires the use of optical interferometry, and cannot be done with single telescopes. I will present recent results on the structure of stars, circumstellar disks and binaries, obtained with the Navy Precision Optical Interferometer (NPOI) and other optical interferometers.
I will also present results on the observations of the tori around the nuclei of Active Galactic Nuclei.

I will discuss some of the current developments at the NPOI, which include the commissioning of a 437 m baseline, and shorter baselines, which will allow us to resolve stars as small as 0.2 milliarcseconds and do a detailed study of the structure of large stars. As a final subject I will discuss the observations of geostationary satellites, and the challenges involved in this work.


Henrique Schmitt did his PhD, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on issues related to the Unified Model of Seyfert galaxies. During his PhD Henrique spent 2 years as a graduate student at the Space Telescope Science Institute. Upon concluding his PhD, Henrique went back to STScI as a post-doc, followed by a Jansky Fellowship at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. He is currently an astronomer at the Remote Sensing Division of the Naval Research Laboratory, working on optical interferometric observations and imaging of stars and circumstellar disks with the Navy Precision Optical Interferometer.

Join Us for Dinner Before the Meeting on April 12, 2014

Join our special guest and members for dinner at 5:30 p.m. "Golf Course Restaurant"  at the University of Maryland golf course Universtiy Boulvard & Statium Drive, College Park, MD 20742.

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 2014!

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
05 Apr 8:30pm Winter constellations; Jupiter in Gemini
03 May 9:00pm Saturn rising in the east; Astronomy Day 5/10
21 Jun 9:00pm Solstice 6/21; possible meteors (June Bo÷tids)
19 Jul 9:00pm Summer Triangle; Mars has just passed Spica
23 Aug 8:30pm Andromeda rising; Perseid meteor shower
20 Sep 8:00pm Andromeda Galaxy rising; equinox 9/23
18 Oct 7:30pm Possible meteor crash on Mars 10/19
01 Nov 7:00pm Pleiades and winter constellations appear
Exploring the Sky is a presentation of the National Park Service and National Capital Astronomers.

Star Parties

For NCA information by E-mail or phone

NCA Documents

NCA constitution and by-laws current as of August 28, 2005 they need some changes so we can continue to be a healthy organization.
NCA constitution and by-laws revision as of October 25, 2005 proposal.

Observing Resources

Navigation Star Chart
Northern Hemisphere Star Alignment Chart
Southern Hemisphere Star Alignment Chart
Astronomical League Observing Clubs, you might use the above alignment charts if you have a GoTo telescope to accomplish some observing.

Site Host

uaqa: understanding articulation quality assurance, home of the National Capital Astronomers, Inc web page. Check out uaqa's web publishing services and the other people and organizations using uaqa.com. uaqa also hosts Astrolabes.org and Mcstaffunion.org.

HOME | Telescope Making Workshops | Exploring the Sky | Contact Info | Star Dust Archive | Links

Updated by Harold Williams on 31 March 2014 at 3:51pm.