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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 2017-2018

Next Meeting Date: Saturday, 14 Oct 2017

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

Debris Disks: What Astronomical Leftovers Can Tell Us about Planets

Speaker: Erika Nesvold (Carnegie DTM)

Abstract: Debris disks are made up of the rocky and icy material left over from planet formation. Observations of debris disks around other stars with optical and infrared telescopes have revealed that many of these disks are lumpy and asymmetric, indicating that unseen exoplanets may be nearby, shaping the disks via gravity. By modeling this gravitational interaction between a planet and disk, we can predict the presence of an undetected exoplanet and even estimate its mass and orbit. I will present my research on debris disk models and provide some examples of the power of disk modeling to understand exoplanets.

Bio: Erika Nesvold completed a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics and a Ph.D. in Physics at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She performed her graduate research at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center with Dr. Marc Kuchner, on the modeling of circumstellar debris disks. She is now a Carnegie Postdoctoral Fellow at the Carnegie Institution's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism.

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 Things of interest
29 Apr 9:00pm Winter constellations last gasp; Mars setting
20 May 9:00pm Jupiter near Spica; Big Dipper high
17 Jun 9:00pm Saturn and Jupiter visible; Vega rising
1 Jul 9:00pm Summer Triangle; First quarter moon and Jupiter in Virgo
12 Aug 8:30pm Saturn prominent; Andromeda rising
16 Sep 8:00pm Vega overhead; Saturn closing on Antares
21 Oct 7:30pm Summer triangle is directly overhead
18 Nov 7:00pm Pleiades and winter constellations appear
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

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

Updated by E. Warner on 13 Sep 2017.