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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, 11 May 2019

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

The Winds and Nebulae of Pulsars

Speaker: Dr. Noel Klingler, Penn State University

Abstract: Pulsars are formed from the cores of massive stars when they violently collapse and explode in supernovae explosions. These objects are a type of neutron star -- matter at the most extreme forms, consisting of ~1.5 solar masses compressed into a 10-mile radius, spinning rapidly (hundreds of times per second), and producing the most powerful magnetic fields in nature (trillions of times stronger than that of Earth's). Young energetic pulsars produce winds of particles which flow outwards at nearly the speed of light, whose radiation we can see from radio to gamma-rays as a /pulsar wind nebula/. In this talk I will present the magnificent diversity of pulsar wind nebulae as seen with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. I will discuss what we have learned about them in the last few decades, recent progress in this field, and some of the intriguing phenomena we are continuing to discover.

Bio: Dr. Noel Klingler is a postdoctoral scientist at the Pennsylvania State University, having recently received his Ph.D. in astrophysics from the George Washington University in 2018. He works with the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory -- a NASA space telescope designed to study gamma-ray bursts and other high-energy transient astrophysical phenomena. His current research interests include searching for the electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational wave events (i.e., the short gamma-ray bursts that are produced when two neutron stars collide), and also studies of pulsar wind nebulae, primarily in X-rays, which was the subject of his dissertation.

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 2019!

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
6 Apr 8:30pm Winter constellations’ last gasp
4 May 9:00pm Mars, big dipper high
1 Jun 9:00pm Vega rising, Mars setting
6 Jul 9:00pm Moon, Jupiter, summer triangle, M13
10 Aug 8:30pm Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, M13, Andromeda
7 Sep 8:00pm Moon,Jupiter, Saturn, Vega
5 Oct 7:30pm Moon, Jupiter, Saturn in a row
2 Nov 7:00pm Moon, Pleiades, winter constellations
Exploring the Sky is a presentation of the National Park Service and National Capital Astronomers.

For NCA information by E-mail or phone

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

Updated by E. Warner on 23 April 2019.