This past month The Arts and Entertainment Magazine attended the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club (NOVAC) held at George Mason University, in Fairfax Virginia. The event displayed some of the many telescopes that club members own as well as ‘lender scopes’ that are available for use. In attendance were visitors from a nearby Northern Virginia Planetarium, and a Geophysics expert, Dr. Linda Schaffner, whom we’d like to introduce in future issues.
NOVAC– Paul Derby is the president of the club and explained to us that membership tops 1,100 people, making it the largest club of its type in the world. The membership includes teachers, students, astronauts, and professional observers as well as armatures. The club also sets up at sites in Northern Virginia to view the night skies. These ‘star parties’ are very popular and many of the members are on hand to demonstrate the telescopes and explain the universe to the viewers that attend.
The club sponsors symposiums where guest speakers are invited to talk to the audience about their interests in astronomy. These meetings are educational and cover every aspect of that science. Beginners, as well as long time members, find these very fascinating. Those interested in joining the club are urged to contact it for membership. As a member myself, I proudly display their logo in the right hand column of this publication’s homepage.
GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY– This is one of the top colleges on the East Coast and boasts over 30,000 students. Here I met Harold A. Geller, DA the Associate Chair and Observatory Director for the University.
Professor Geller took our team on a guided tour of the college’s 32-inch Ritchey-Chretien telescope. The telescope is housed in a dome atop ‘Research Hall’ in the university building complex. The college has a summer school for visiting schools and clubs, and even has a lift to make it wheelchair accessible. We viewed the telescope control room which include a weather station connected to IAD and the Vatican Observatory. GMU has become a vital link to the world-wide weather information net.
Professor Geller has also written a number of books including a tribute to his late brother, Richard, a great mathematician in his own right. We are including the Amazon sites that his books can be purchased at for our readers convenience. We are also looking into some of the many other courses that the university has so that we can present them to our readership. We hope that our readers, as well as many of the University’s students and faculty enjoy our visit to GMU and the many displays that NOVAC had set up for viewing and discussion.