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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 2021-2022, the meetings will be held online via Zoom.

Meeting Schedule for 2021-2022

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 Information

National Capital Astronomers will be holding its 2021-2022 meetings online via Zoom. This year, the Zoom meetings have been set up so that there is no registration required. This is the direct Zoom link, it is the same for everybody for every meeting this year (2021-22). If we have problems with Zoom bombing at a meeting, then the link will be canceled and a new one created that will require registration for subsequent meetings.
As usual, the Zoom room "doors" open at 7pm ET with the actual meeting starting on time at 7:30pm! While you do not need to sign in right at 7pm, please do not wait until 7:35pm!! And since we are not registering folks, it will be important that you have a recognizable name showing so that I can let you in from the virtual waiting room.

Finally, as last year, we will be recording the meetings.

Join Zoom Meeting: NCA Monthly Zoom

Zoom Etiquette

These guidelines will be updated as needed.

Next Meeting Date: Saturday, 09 Apr 2022

7:30 pm ONLINE.

The Nature of Time from the Planck Time until Now, and Maybe Beyond

Speaker: Harold Williams, Montgomery College

Abstract: The Planck time is square_root( G ?/ c5), which is approximately 5.4 x 10^-44 seconds. It is the time scale that arises naturally from the natural constants G (the Newtonian gravitational constant), ?, pronounced h bar, (the Planck constant, h, divided by 2?), and c (the speed of causality: the speed of electromagnetism and gravity in a vacuum). Max Planck discovered this combination of natural constants by using dimensional analysis, in 1899, a year before he discovered his epochal formula for the spectrum of blackbody radiation (electromagnetic radiation in thermal equilibrium) in December of 1900 in Prussian Academy of Sciences, His discovery was reported in the article - Max Planck 'Über irreversible Strahlungsvorgänge', in the Sitzungsberichte der Preußischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, vol. 5, p. 440-479-480 (1899).
The talk will consider what the value of the Planck time tells us about our Universe.

Bio: Dr. Harold Alden Williams is the president of the NCA. His interest in the nature of time comes naturally: many of his ancestors were watch and clock repair persons, and he has repaired a few family clocks. He is planetarium/Universarium director at Montgomery College at Takoma Park. The planetarium is currently being upgraded and will reopen in the Leggett Math and Science building sometime in 2023. The 30-foot tilted dome will seat 100 people; it is to be installed by Spitz in October of this year. It will have a Digistar 7 laser projector with greater resolution and brightness than the previous SciDome from Spitz. Dr. Williams also teaches ASTR101 at the Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus of Montgomery College and is the Coordinator of the Science and Engineering Technology Laboratory. Having served as NCA's President for many years, he is delighted that this coming September the NCA will have a new President.

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 2021!

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

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Updated by E. Warner on 13 May 2022.