General Meetings

General Meetings2021-04-13T18:25:31-04:00

Upcoming Meeting

The Last Stargazers

Dr. Emily Levesque

Sunday, May 2, 2021
7:30 PM
 to 9:00 PM EST

Online event

Monthly Meeting – Public Invited


A bird that mimicked a black hole. The astronomer that discovered microwave ovens. A telescope that got shot. The science of astronomy is filled with true stories (and tall tales) of the adventures and misadventures that accompany our exploration of the universe. Join Dr. Emily Levesque, author of the new popular science book The Last Stargazers, to take a behind-the-scenes tour of life as a professional astronomer. We’ll learn about some of the most powerful telescopes in the world, meet the people who run them, and explore the crucial role of human curiosity in the past, present, and future of scientific discovery.


Emily Levesque is an astronomy professor at the University of Washington. Her work explores how the most massive stars in the universe evolve and die. She has observed for upwards of fifty nights on many of the planet’s largest telescopes and flown over the Antarctic stratosphere in an experimental aircraft for her research. Her academic accolades include the 2014 Annie Jump Cannon Award, a 2017 Alfred P. Sloan fellowship, a 2019 Cottrell Scholar award, and the 2020 Newton Lacy Pierce Prize. She earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from MIT and a PhD in astronomy from the University of Hawaii.

What are NOVAC meetings like?

Currently, all NOVAC meetings are being held online. Meetings start at 7:30 PM, generally on the second Sunday of every month (with the exception of May, when we meet earlier or later to avoid a conflict with Mother’s Day).  The first part of the meeting generally includes:

  • A tour of what is in the sky this month and how to find an observe these things.
  • An Astronomy Note – a short presentation about a key astronomical concept to help deepen and enrich your knowledge
  • Observing reports when members can share their stories and experiences viewing or photographing the sky
  • Q&A, where beginning astronomers are encouraged to ask questions to be answered by more experienced members.

The final part of the meeting is a program, usually by outside experts, but sometimes by one of the members. We’ve had presenters from all aspects of Astronomy including scientists from NASA and other premier organizations, cosmologists, and photographers.

NOVAC’s general meetings are open to club members and the general public alike. We welcome all ages and interest levels!  Children under 18 need to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian while they are at NOVAC events.

December 12 – Public Monthly Meeting – How to Optimize your Astrophotography Setup @ Online via Google Meet
Dec 12 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

How to Optimize your Astrophotography Setup

Dr. Thomas B. Fowler

Sunday, December 12, 2021

7:30 PM to 9:00 PM EST

Online event

Monthly Meeting – Public Invited


Amateur astronomers know too well that using a $400 Tele Vue eyepiece with a $100 telescope would be a waste of money and the capabilities of the Tele Vue. It would work, but for $500 a much better optical train could be assembled.  Similarly, any attempt to get 300x out of a 60mm f//10 telescope using a 4mm eyepiece and a 2x Barlow would be disappointing.  A 25 lb. telescope on a flimsy mount might not collapse the mount, but it would not make for good viewing.  These examples illustrate that in astronomy as elsewhere, for optimum performance and return on investment, it is necessary to use carefully matched equipment. In this talk Dr. Fowler will explain the issues involved in matching optical equipment, astronomy cameras, and mechanical gear to determine optimal performance and the limits to any given astrophotography configuration.


Thomas B. Fowler has been involved in astronomy since 1960. He is the author of over one hundred articles, many reviews for Cloudy Nights, and three books, including a book on astronomy equipment and techniques, “The View Through Your Telescope and How to Make it Better” (2020). He has given presentations to the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club and the TriState Astronomers. He is an independent consultant on technology to the U.S. government and Adjunct Professor of Engineering at George Mason University. He has lectured widely on science, technology, and philosophy. His doctorate from George Washington University is in system theory. He also owns 3 telescopes and too much other astronomy equipment to think about! His books can be ordered from Amazon.

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