Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How can I have NOVAC participate with our group?
  2. Will Mars ever be as large in the sky as the full Moon?
  3. What telescope should I buy?
  4. Is there handicapped parking at the Monthly Meetings?
  5. Where does NOVAC observe?
  6. Can I bring my family out to look through a telescope?
  7. Where can I get help with my telescope?
  8. How do I subscribe or unsubscribe to the NOVAC Listserver?
  9. How do I renew Sky and Telescope or Astronomy magazine?
  10. What’s the story with these green laser pointers I’ve heard about on the news? How can I use one without being labeled a terrorist?
  • How can I have NOVAC participate with our group?
    To have members of NOVAC come out to your event and show off the night sky, contact one of our outreach members and arrange a date. Please see the Public Viewing page. They will announce your event to the club and ask for volunteers. Note, NOVAC requires at least 2 weeks notice to schedule outreach events.
  • Will Mars ever be as large in the sky as the full Moon?
    No. A persistent rumor on the Internet has suggested this, but it’s not true. As Mars and the Earth orbit the Sun the distance between them varies. This causes the apparent size of Mars to vary over time, but not so much that Mars will ever appear to be close to the size of the Moon. Nonetheless, it is still an interesting object to examine with a telescope. GMU professor (and NOVAC member) Dr. Harold Geller has more details on this hoax on his Web site.
  • What telescope should I buy?
    There’s no one “best telescope” for everyone. The telescope (if any!) that you invest in should be one that’s right for your interests and abilities. We have assembled a resource page that will give you more information. We’d also strongly urge you to come to a meeting or observing event. You’re likely to learn a lot by asking a few questions and peering through several telescopes.
  • Is there handicapped parking at the monthly meetings?
    Yes. Handicapped parking can be found at the rear of Enterprise Hall. Follow Patriot circle around to parking lot B and drive up to the top parking spots. Note, one side of parking lot B is closed for repairs.
  • Where does NOVAC observe?
    NOVAC has access to seven official observing sites in the Northern Virginia area. They are located in Loudoun, Fauquier and Fairfax counties. In addition, club members also use five other local sites that are not managed by the club. See the Observing Sites page for more info.
  • Can I bring my family out to look through a telescope?
    Absolutely! NOVAC holds several family events each year. The Astronomy Day and NOVAC Star Gaze are the most popular. Public observing events are held each month at Crockett Park, near Manassas. If you own a telescope, bring it!
  • Where can I get help with my telescope?
    NOVAC members can ask for help in the club’s Mentoring Program. This program matches people with similar equipment together. See the contact page for the programs directors information.
  • How do I subscribe or unsubscribe to the NOVAC Listserver?
    You must be a member of NOVAC to subscribe to the listserver. Directions can be found in the Members Section. Our list maintainers email address is on the contacts page.
  • How do I renew Sky and Telescope or Astronomy magazine?
    You can bring a check to Kent, the club treasurer, at a club meeting or mail it to him using the information in the Members Section also.
  • What’s the story with these green laser pointers I’ve heard about on the news? How can I use one without being labeled a terrorist?
    Above all, use common sense! Use only a laser pointer that complies with Federal power output standards (less than five milliwatts output). Don’t point it at anything other than sky, and don’t use it at all when aircraft are in the area. Sky and Telescope magazine has published a detailed set of recommendations that we feel are both informative and useful.