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Northern Virginia Astronomy Club (NOVAC)
The Northern Virginia Astronomy Club (NOVAC) is a large regional amateur astronomy club centered in Northern Virginia with active members from all around the metropolitan Washington, DC area. Founded in 1980, total membership now exceeds 1,000. Our emphasis is on supporting active observation by our members, and active outreach to our communities on an individual and group basis. Our motto is “To observe, and help others observe”.
Our members range from people just starting to be curious about astronomy to highly experienced amateurs to professional educators and researchers. Their interests include armchair astronomy, visual observing and sketching; building telescopes, imaging systems, and control systems; solar, planetary, narrow band, deep sky, and astronomical landscape photography; robotic telescopes; learning from and teaching others; organizing events; and socializing with others of similar interests.
Our programs include
Monthly meetings with speakers from the professional community and from our building
Providing dark sky sites for member observing, group and individual, around the area, and as far as WV
Two major public events each year: Astronomy Day in May and StarGaze in October
Periodic public observing events in conjunction with local parks
Providing speakers and observing sessions for local civic and youth groups
Participation with Astronomical League and International Dark Sky Association programs
Sponsorship of an astro imaging special interest group (SIG)
Operating a lending library and a loaner scope (and related equipment) inventory
Maintaining an active online discussion group for members to share their work and progress as observers, announce news, ask questions, buy and sell, receive help and advice on observing and equipment, and coordinate informal group observing. Periodically, we explain about weather balloons launched from Dulles airport and at the same time why the mid-Atlantic weather forecasts are not more accurate.
Mentoring new members, especially in becoming familiar with new observing equipment
Cooperating with George Mason University, University of Maryland, Analemma Society, Chevy Chase Community Center ATMs, and other astronomy programs in the DC region.
Giving awards at regional science fairs.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are following mandated regulations and going beyond that to follow best practices in our programs. In summary, all meetings are being conducted virtually online. Public events sponsored by NOVAC are cancelled. Public events sponsored by others, especially at public parks, are following their guidelines, with NOVAC members deciding on their own whether to participate. Observing at dark sites is proceeding almost as usual, with emphasis on generous distancing between individuals or household groups. Participation in member activities has increased in many cases, and membership has grown. NOVAC is hoping to resume normal activities in 3Q21, assuming the vaccine remains effective and becomes broadly available.
Membership is open to anyone who shares our objectives and is willing to help carry them out. For membership information, see our website