North Carolina Astronomers’ Meeting (NCAM)

The 2018 edition of NCAM will be held on Saturday, 22 September

2017 Speaker (23 Sep 2017) – Saturday Morning:  John Mather, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

From the Big Bang to the End of the Universe, and How We’ll Learn More with the James Webb Space Telescope

John Mather is a Senior Astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and Senior Project Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope.  His research centers on infrared astronomy and cosmology.  He was Principal Investigator for the Far Infrared Absolute Spectrophotometer (FIRAS) on the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE), which was used to show that the cosmic microwave background radiation has a blackbody spectrum within 50 parts per million (ppm), confirming the Big Bang theory to extraordinary accuracy.  For this work he shared the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics.

For more information, see Dr. Mather’s page at NASA GSFC and his Nobel Prize page.

Dr. Mather also gave a public lecture at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, 22 Sep 2017, in the auditorium of the Koury Hospitality Careers Building at GTCC.

NCAM is an annual technical meeting that seeks to bring members of the NC professional astronomy community together to network and share research.  The meeting usually draws 50+ attendees from institutions around North Carolina and surrounding states.  For the past two decades, NCAM has been held annually in late September or early October, and includes a plenary presentation from an invited researcher, short oral sessions scheduled throughout the day, and space for research posters.  We especially encourage presentations of student research.  The meeting also usually includes two special sessions:  the annual business meeting of the NC Section of the International Dark-sky Association, and a Center for Astronomy Education Regional Teaching Exchange.

Meeting Registration

As usual, there is no registration fee for the NCA meeting. We will have a sign-in table in the Koury Building.

We would like to get a reasonably accurate head count for the meeting, so that we can let the site committee know how much food/drink to order for break refreshments. Please let us know beforehand by registering through the Online Registration Form (pre-registration is now closed, but you are still welcome to attend and sign in when you arrive)  if you are planning on coming. Registrations for presentations should be completed by Monday, 17 Sep 2018. If you plan to come but NOT to present, we would still like for you to register beforehand – you can do this up until the 20th of September.

Directions and Maps To The Meeting
The meeting is held in the Koury Hospitality Careers Building on the Jamestown campus of GTCC.

Local Lodging There are plenty of hotels around the area, use this resource to find accommodations if you plan to stay overnight.

Abstract Submission If you would like to present an oral or display presentation at the NCA meeting, please fill out and submit Online Registration Form (pre-registration is now closed, but you are still welcome to attend and sign in when you arrive) by Monday, 17 Sep 2018.

Display Presentations There will be room for approximately 20 posters to be displayed. The available space is approximately 44 in. x 44 in.  Access to power and tables will be limited, but there is local wireless access.

Oral Presentations The proposed plan is for standard oral presentations to be 10 minutes including Q&A, though this could change, depending on the number of submissions.  A podium/microphone/computer/projector will be provided for oral presentations.  A wireless microphone is also provided. Wireless internet access will be available in the presentation space.

Registration Forms are submitted to Tom English (336-334-4822, ext 50023).
You should receive confirmation of receipt within a day of submission – if not, call or e-mail to verify.

Special Sessions
The annual business meeting of the North Carolina Section of the International Dark Sky Association will be held during the lunch break.  NCAM also acts as a Regional Teaching Exchange for an ASTRO 101 discussion/presentation session (Part of the NASA Center for Astronomy Education) during the afternoon.  Anyone who currently teaches introductory college astronomy, or who expects to teach in the future, is encouraged to attend. (If you have ideas for the discussion, contact Tom English.)  You can register officially with the CAE for this session here.

Saturday Lunch Options include a variety of nearby restaurants.  Some of the attendees plan to place a group order in the morning to Jerusalem Market for box lunches. You will have the opportunity to indicate your lunch preference on your registration form, and if you plan to participate in the group order, you should bring payment to the registration table the morning of the event. On-site orders MUST be verified and paid for before 10 a.m.  All sandwiches from Jerusalem Market are served on thin, lavash bread with chips, brine pickle, and olive on the side. Lettuce and tomato are added to all sandwiches.  This year’s lunch options are:

  • $7: Falafel (Falafel Patties with hummos and tahini sauce.)
  • $8: Turkey (Oven roasted turkey breast with black pepper and provolone cheese.)
  • $9: The Turk (Soujuk, a spicy, dried beef sausage, sliced thin with provolone cheese melted on top.  Served with baba ghanouj and yogurt cucumber sauce on the sandwich.)

2017 Meeting Agenda (2018 will follow a similar format)

NCAM Agenda – NCAM Program 2017

8:30 a.m. Conference Opens

Refreshments are available throughout the day in the display area.  Several display presentations will be posted in this area throughout the day.

9:25 a.m. Welcome and Announcements

9:30 a.m. Invited Speaker – John Mather, NASA GSFC,
From the Big Bang to the End of the Universe, and How We’ll Learn More with the James Webb Space Telescope.

10:30 a.m. Break – visit the posters in the display area

11:15 a.m. Contributed Oral Session I – short presentations

1.1          The Applications of Deep Neural Networks to the Classification of Pulsating Stars
Presented by Thomas Boudreaux (High Point University)

1.2          Stellar Activity for Every TESS Star in the Southern Sky
Presented by Ward Howard (UNC-Chapel Hill)

1.3          AS 386 – A newly discovered binary system with a massive invisible component
Presented by Anatoly Miroshnichenko (UNC-Greensboro)

1.4          High Altitude Cosmic Ray, Temperature and Pressure Atmospheric Responses the Penumbra and Umbra During the 21-8-2017 Total Eclipse
Presented by Enrique Gómez (Western Carolina University)

12:00 p.m. Lunch – visit the posters in the display area

1:00 p.m. NCIDA Meeting: The North Carolina section of the International Dark Sky Association will meet in the auditorium for a short business meeting.

2:00 p.m. Contributed Oral Session II – short presentations

2.1          Meteorites:  the Gateway to STEM
Presented by Steven Singletary (Robeson Community College)

2.2          Connecting Above and Below:  Students Observing Human-made Satellites
Presented by Don Smith (Guilford College)

2.3          Eastern NC Observatory Roadmap: From the Construction of Observatories to Building a Network of Shared Resources
Presented by Charles Goodman (Pitt Community College)

2.4          Installing and Running Telescopes on Skynet for Research and Education: the Telescope Owner’s View (Joys, Frustrations and Laments)
Presented by Dan Caton (Appalachian State University)

3:00 p.m. CAE Regional Teaching Exchange: Share your Astro 101 teaching ideas with your colleagues. This year’s exchange will focus on post-eclipse ideas, issues with lecture tutorials and others collaborative exercises, ideas for transitioning from use of flash-based NAAP animations. Other topics are welcome. Additionally, a Share-a-thon table will be set up for sharing copies of assignments, labs, education research, etc.

Plenary Lecture Abstract

From the Big Bang to the End of the Universe, and How We’ll Learn More with the James Webb Space Telescope.

The James Webb Space Telescope, planned for launch in October 2018, will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. It will open new territories of astronomy, with observations ranging from the first stars, galaxies, and black holes, to the growth of galaxies, to the formation of stars and planetary systems, to the evolution of planetary systems and the conditions for life here on Earth, and perhaps elsewhere.  I will show how we have learned about the history of the universe, how the Big Bang is a completely misleading name for the infinite expanding universe, and what new telescopes are being built now. I will illustrate with simulations of the formation of galaxies from the primordial material, and the possible evolution of the solar system through planetary orbit migration. The JWST telescope mirror has been assembled and the instrument module has been completely tested. After more tests at Goddard, the telescope/instrument combination will travel to Houston for cryo-vacuum tests in Chamber A in 2017. I will show the design of the observatory and discuss the opportunities for future observers to prepare to use it.