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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 2018-2019

Next Meeting Date: Saturday, 12 January 2019

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

Einstein Interviewed

Speaker: Dean Howarth & Rachel O'Connell

Abstract: The year 2019 marks the centennial of the observational proof of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity by British astronomer, Arthur Eddington. At the time, the newspapers were agog with claims that all was "askew in the heavens" and claimed that only a dozen wise men could even understand the theory! Today, relativity is part of the fabric of science, but many are still "agog" at the thought of warped space-time.

Enjoy an "Interview with Herr Professor" and hear some of Einstein's insights and recollections on the events of 100 years ago, when Newton was unseated as the master of gravity. Historical interpreter Dean Howarth portrays Dr. Einstein as he is interviewed by a curious journalist (played by Rachel O'Connell).

Bio: Dean Howarth is a veteran physics teacher in northern Virginia. He has developed a unique set of living history skits - Living Histories of Science - that vividly convey the personalities and the achievements that led to our present understanding of the physical world. In many of these skits Dean is accompanied by a colleague. Rachel O'Connell, an adjunct performer with Living Histories of Science, has collaborated with Dean for 11 years. Dean and Rachel conduct historical science narratives at museums and historic sites under the moniker, The Natural Philosopher LLC. Their work can be seen at http://www.livinghistoriesofscience.com/ . Their presentations are designed for all ages, and have been given at sites such as Mount Vernon, Gadsby's Tavern, Claude Moore Farm, the Banneker Historic Park, the Society of the Cincinnati, Rippon Lodge, and the Stabler-Leadbeater and Hugh Mercer Apothecaries.

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 Tuesdays & 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 2018!

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
7 Apr 9:00pm Orion nebula, Beehive cluster
5 May 9:00pm Jupiter, Beehive cluster
2 Jun 9:00pm Jupiter, M13
14 Jul 9:00pm Jupiter, Saturn, M13o
11 Aug 8:30pm Jupiter, Saturn, M13
1 Sep 8:00pm Jupiter, Saturn, Mars
6 Oct 7:30pm Saturn, Mars
17 Nov 7:00pm Saturn, Mars, Uranus, Moon
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 11 Jan 2019.