North Carolina Astronomers' Meeting (NCAM)

NCAM 2021

Virtual Meeting held Saturday, 25 September, 2021
Featured Speaker: Shep Doeleman, Harvard/CfA/EHT

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 50-75 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.

Because of the high COVID-19 Delta variant caseload, the 2021 edition of NCAM was held virtually with assistance from Guilford College.

Morning Plenary Lecture: Sheperd S. Doeleman, Harvard/CfA/EHT

Imaging a Black Hole with the EHT

About the Speaker: Dr. Sheperd S. Doeleman, the founding director of the Event Horizon Telescope project, is a Harvard Senior Research Fellow and Smithsonian Astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.  His research focuses on studying super massive black holes with sufficient resolution to directly observe the event horizon. To do this our group assembles global networks of telescopes that observe at mm wavelengths to create an Earth-size virtual telescope using the technique of Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). We target SgrA*, the 4 million solar mass black hole at the center of the Milky Way, and M87, a giant elliptical galaxy for this work. Both of these objects present to us the largest apparent event horizons in the Universe, and both can be resolved by (sub)mm VLBI arrays. We call this project The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT).

Dr. Doeleman will also give a free public lecture at GTCC the evening before NCAM.

Meeting Registration

NCAM is free and open to professional astronomers and astronomy/physics students/faculty from North Carolina and surrounding states. Note: NCAM is not a public/amateur astronomy event – we host one of those in the spring (TriStar). Information about registration for the 2022 event will be posted here.

We would like to get a reasonably accurate head count for the meeting, so participants will be asked to complete a coming registration form or contact Tom English beforehand. Registrations for presentations should be completed by Tuesday, 20 September. If you plan to participate but NOT to present, we would still like for you to register beforehand – you can do this until Thursday, 23 September.

Abstract Submission

If you would like to present an oral or display presentation at the NCAM meeting, you will be able to do so soon. The submission deadline is Tuesday, 20 September.

Display Presentations

Posters, submitted as pdf files, will be linked on the meeting website and assigned virtual breakout rooms for special sessions during the meeting. 

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.

After you submit the registration form, you should receive confirmation of receipt within a day of submission; if not, call or e-mail Tom English (336-334-4822, ext. 50023) to verify.

Special Sessions

  • NCAM usually serves as the host for annual business meeting of the North Carolina Section of the International Dark Sky Association. Typically, this session is held during the lunch break. (If you have questions about NCIDA or ideas for discussion at the meeting, contact Dan Caton (Appalachian State University Dark Sky Observatory).
  • NCAM acts as an annual site for a Regional ASTRO101 Teaching Exchange – a discussion/presentation session will be held 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 at GTCC.)

Meeting Agenda for the virtual 2021 edition

The final 2022 agenda will be posted before the event.

NCAM 2021  Saturday, 25 Sept. 2021
Time Session
9:00 a.m. Plenary Lecture – Join Zoom session

Shep Doeleman (Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics/EHT)
Imaging a black hole with the Event Horizon Telescope
10:20 a.m. Posters – Join Zoom session

Each poster will have its own breakout room that participants can enter and exit as they wish. Presenters should stay in the breakout room assigned to their poster and "share screen" to share the image of their poster with attenders.

New Precision Photometric Observations and the First Analyses of the Totally Eclipsing, Solar Type Binary, V1302 Her
Dan Caton (Appalachian State University), Ronald G. Samec, Danny Faulkner
Poster link

Making GONG Solar Data Accessible Via Afterglow
John Torian (Hampden-Sydney College), Vladimir Kouprianov, Jonathan Keohane
Poster (PDF)

Surveys, Fields, and Collections in the Astronomical Photographic Data Archive at PARI
J. D. Cline (PARI), T. H. Barker (PARI)
Poster (PDF)
APDA Web-Accessible Database Poster Link
Related Poster (PDF)

11:00 a.m. Short Talks – Join Zoom session

Anatoly Miroshnichenko (UNCG)
Ten years of spectroscopy at the Three College Observatory

Enrique Gómez (Western Carolina)
Robotic Telescopes in the Middle Grades Classroom: Lessons Learned on Hands-On Engagement

Jacob Brown (NCSSM)
Using Solar Panel data to explore the Earth-Sun interaction

Ken Brandt (Robeson Planetarium/USCB)
Machines on Mars: Update and suggestions for classroom activities
12:15 p.m. There will be a short lunch break period between the end of the short talk session and the NCIDA meeting.
1:00 p.m. NCIDA Meeting – Join Zoom session
2:00 p.m. Regional Teaching Exchange – Join Zoom session

Note: Dr. Doeleman also gave a public version of his NCAM scientific talk – 7:30 p.m. on Friday, 24 Sept.

NCAM Past Editions


NCAM canceled due to the COVID -19 Pandemic


Cathy Olkin, Southwest Research Institute, What we have learned about Pluto and the Kuiper Belt from NASA’s New Horizons Mission


Gabriela González, Louisiana State University/LIGO, “Gravitational Waves Astronomy”


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”


David Charbonneau, Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, “The Compositions of Small Planets”


Sean Solomon, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory/Columbia Univ., “MESSENGER at Mercury: Technical Challenges and Implications for the Formation of the Inner Planets.”


Jocelyn Bell Burnell, University of Oxford, “Reflections on the Discovery of Pulsars”


Don Winget, University of Texas at Austin, “A Close-up Look at White Dwarf Stars: From Kiloparsecs to Centimeters”


Robert A. Benjamin, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, “How to Map the Milky Way”


Francis Halzen, University of Wisconsin-Madison, “IceCube: Particle Astrophysics with High Energy Neutrinos”


Giovanni Fazio, Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, “Observing the High Redshift (z > 5) Universe with the Spitzer Space Telescope”


Hal Levison, Southwest Research Institute, “The Early Dynamical Evolution of the Outer Solar System: A Nice Story”


Neil Gehrels, NASA Goddard, “Gamma Ray Burst Discoveries with the Swift Mission”


Michael Turner, University of Chicago, “Cosmic Acceleration: New Gravitational Physics or Mysterious Dark Energy”

Special Panel Discussion: The past 10 years in Astronomy and a Look to the Coming Decade
Moderated by Robert Naeye (NASA Goddard)

Panel: Jay Bergstralh (NASA Langley), Bruce Carney (UNC-Chapel Hill), Prasun Desai (NASA Langley), Virginia Trimble (U. Cal.-Irvine), Michael Turner (U. Chicago), John Wood (NASA Goddard)


Scott Ransom, NOAO-Charlottesville, “A Millisecond Pulsar (and Basic Physics) Bonanza with the GBT”


Jeff Hester, Arizona State University, “Understanding Our Origins:  Formation of Sun-like Stars in Massive Star Environments”


Paul Butler, Carnegie Institution, “Extrasolar Planets”


Prasun Desai, NASA Langley, “2003 Mars Exploration Rover Mission: Return to the Surface”


Steve Murray, Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics/Chandra, “Chandra 101: X-ray Astronomy Made Easy”