Location: Research Hall, Room 163
Speaker: Elizabeth Warner
Topic: Science with Small Telescopes
For many years, the focus of the UMD Observatory was undergrad teaching and public outreach. However, a challenge from a student in 2011 to observe exoplanet transits has revitalized the research program. Undergrads are observing exoplanet transits, eclipsing binaries and variable stars, supernovae, asteroids (rotation), and occultations mainly with telescopes 14″ or smaller. In other words, doing research observations with small telescopes is entirely feasible for amateurs. In fact, some of the programs are primarily carried out by amateurs!
Prior to coming to University of Maryland in Fall 2000, Elizabeth worked at the University of South Carolina Melton Memorial Observatory as an undergrad TA, then grad TA, and finally instructor. She was a very active and still is a member of the Midlands Astronomy Club. After moving to the DC area and joining the faculty at UMD, she’s had a number of roles, including “Liaison to Amateur Astronomer” for the Deep Impact mission, E/PO team member for Dawn and EPOXI, web manager for PDS-SBN. She also works with the College Park Scholars Science Discovery & the Universe program. In May 2002, she also took on the role of Observatory Director at the UMD Observatory.
NOVAC’s general meetings are open to club members and the general public alike, and are held on the campus of George Mason University (directions) in Fairfax, Virginia. Research Hall is easily identified by the observatory attached to the side of the building. Paid parking is available in the Shenandoah parking structure. Some members have also chosen to park across the street in the far reaches of the Patriot Center’s parking lot, then walk up the path to Research Hall.
Meetings start at 7:00 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). If you come earlier you can do a little socializing. The first part of the meeting is club business, during which the officers make reports about their activities and areas of responsibility. The next part of the meeting usually includes:
- Show and Tell, where members share gadgets, books, techniques, etc.
- The Observing Report, describing the astronomical events for the next month.
- Q&A, where beginning astronomers are encouraged to ask questions to be answered by more experienced members.
- The Sky Tour, describing what’s where in the sky for the next month.
The final part of the meeting is a program, usually by one of the members, but sometimes by “outside experts”. We’ve had presenters from all aspects of Astronomy. Here is a listing of upcoming speakers, a listing of past speakers, their lecture topics, and copies of slideshow presentations and video coverage where available.
There’s a good deal of socializing before and after meetings, allowing members to put faces with the voices they’ve heard in the dark.
Whether you’re an longtime club member, a new or prospective club member, or simply an interested member of the public, you’ll be warmly welcomed at our meetings.
Please Join Us For Dinner!
Meeting attendees (and their guests) are invited to come out for our informal pre-meeting dinner. The pre-meeting dinner will be held at Brion’s Grille located at 10621 Braddock Rd, Fairfax, VA 22032 at 5:30 p.m. The pre-meeting dinner is an excellent way to meet club members, welcome newcomers, and renew old friendships.
If you’d like to join us, stop by the restaurant at 5:30 PM. See you there!
PARKING is available at the Shenandoah parking deck (enter via Sandy Creek Way) for $3/hr, up to a daily maximum of $14. Though the club recommends the use of the paid parking deck, we’ve also had members report success parking in Lot A (a permit-only lot also associated with the Patriot Center) without trouble on Sunday evenings (tickets are $85, however, so assess your own risk tolerance before considering this option).