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 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. For 2022-2023, the meetings will be held online via Zoom.

Meeting Schedule for 2022-2023

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 2022-2023 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 (2022-23). 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, with the permission of the guestspeakers, we will be recording the meetings.

Join Zoom Meeting: NCA Monthly Zoom

Zoom Etiquette

These guidelines will be updated as needed.

Imaging the Surfaces of Distant Stars

Kenneth G. Carpenter, GSFC

Next Meeting Date: Saturday, 14 Jan 2023

7:30 pm ONLINE.

Abstract: While we are working to develop the technologies that will bring us to the nearest star systems and beyond, astronomers continue to probe those distant planetary systems to understand better what we might find during those first visits. We often talk of the search for exoplanets, but equally important is our need to understand the central stars in those systems. Dr. Carpenter will describe the progress that has been made so far in resolving the surfaces of stars beyond the Sun, using both ground and space-based observatories, and then describe our vision of the ultimate space observatory for obtaining photographs of the surfaces of distant stars. Such a mission will consist of multiple mirrors spread out in huge, sparse arrays, such as the UV-optical Stellar Imager (SI) Vision Mission, with 30 mirrors precision formation flying with a beam-combining hub many kilometers distant. We will also discuss the alternate possibility of putting such an observatory on the lunar surface, in conjunction with the Artemis Program.

Bio: Dr. Kenneth Carpenter is currently the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Operations Project Scientist and the Ground Systems Project Scientist for the Roman Space Telescope (RST) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He previously led, as Principal Investigator (PI), the Stellar Imager Vision Mission Study and the Fizeau Interferometer Testbed (FIT) technology development effort. He was also the GSFC Science lead for the JPL-GSFC-JSC-STScI Optical Testbed and Integration on ISS eXperiment (OpTIIX) Team. His scientific interests include studies of the chromospheres, transition regions, winds and circumstellar shells of cool stars, as well as the calculation of model atmospheres and synthetic spectra and investigations of line fluorescence processes, chemically peculiar stars, and the masses of Cepheid variables; hardware interests include development and operations of UV spectroscopic instruments and large baseline space interferometers.
He is currently a member of the "Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics Laboratory" at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Carpenter earned his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in astronomy from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, USA and earned his Ph.D. in astronomy from The Ohio State University. During his NASA career, Carpenter has received nine Special Act Awards and seven Group Achievement awards. He has also published more than 70 peer-reviewed papers in astrophysical literature and has more than 90 other publications.
He enjoys photography and is an enthusiastic fan of all things Star Trek and Disney. Carpenter credits both Star Trek and the 1964-'65 New York World's Fair, which he attended as a child, with fueling his desire to work for NASA.

Telescope-Making and Mirror-Grinding

The telescope making, maintenance, and modification workshop with Guy Brandenburg is held in the basement (wood shop) of the Chevy Chase Community Center which is located at the intersection of McKinley Street and Connecticut Avenue, NW, a few blocks inside the DC boundary, on the northeast corner of the intersection. The workshop is open on Tuesdays & Fridays, from 5:00 to 7:30 PM. For information visit Guy's Website. To contact Guy, call 202-635-1860 or Email Guy.

Come See the Stars at Exploring the Sky 2022!

Exploring the Sky is an informal program that for over seventy 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. During all those years, it has been co-sponsored by NCA and the National Park Service. Face masks are optional.

Questions? Call NCA at 202-635-1860 and leave a message.

Date Time Things of interest
2 Jul 9:00pm rained out
6 Aug 8:30pm 70% Moon; no planets; Globular Clusters M22, M4, M5, M13; Open Cluster M45
3 Sep 8:00pm 56% Moon; Planets Saturn and Jupiter; Globular Clusters M22, M4, Open Clusters M44 and M45
1 Oct 7:30pm 96% Moon; Planets Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter; Globular Clusters, Open Clusters M44 and M45
5 Nov 7:00pm 94% Moon; Planets Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn; Globular Clusters M13, M3, M15, M92, and M2;, Open Clusters M44 and M45
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