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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). For 2020-2021, the meetings will be held online via Zoom. Attendees must register to get a Zoom link.

Meeting Schedule for 2020-2021

The meetings for this year will be VIRTUAL and not in-person.

With permission of the speakers, most meetings will be recorded. Once available the audio and video will be linked.

Online Meeting Registration

National Capital Astronomers will be holding its 2020-2021 meetings online via Zoom. Although you do not need to be an NCA member to participate, you will need to register to get your unique link to the Zoom session.

Zoom Etiquette

Given the newness of doing this, these guidelines are likely to be updated as needed.

Next Meeting Date: Saturday, 14 Nov 2020

7:30 pm ONLINE.

A Geochemist's Perspective on Planetary Differentiation

Speaker: Dr. Anat Shahar, Earth and Planets Laboratory, Carnegie Institution for Science

Abstract: Planetary differentiation occurred at high temperature, high pressure, and on bodies with varying compositions. The specific conditions at which bodies differentiated can be probed and the chemical fingerprints of that differentiation can be found in stable isotope ratios measured today in natural samples. Experiments are key to understanding the mechanisms behind the fractionations seen in nature as the pressure, temperature and compositional space can be interrogated systematically. In this talk I will focus on how pressure, temperature and composition affect the partitioning of isotopes between metal and silicate. I will then discuss how the interior of a planet can be seen on the surface and what this means for planetary habitability in general.

Bio: Anat Shahar is a staff scientist at the Earth and Planets Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution for Science and adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland. Anat Shahar obtained a B.S. and a M.E. in geological engineering from Cornell University in 2002 and 2003, respectively. She earned her Ph.D. in geochemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2008. She went on to complete her postdoctoral research at the Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution for Science and in 2009 was appointed staff scientist. Her work uses high-pressure, high-temperature experiments and stable isotope geochemistry to understand the formation of planets in the solar system.

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 2020!

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. !

Exploring the Sky 2020 Status: Because of the ongoing pandemic, EtS sessions have been canceled for the remainder of the year. Please check back in Spring 2021.

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 15 Nov 2020.