North Carolina Astronomers' Meeting (NCAM)

NCAM 2022

Virtual Meeting Saturday, 24 September, 2022
Featured Speaker: Rebekah Dawson, Penn State University

NCAM is an annual technical meeting that seeks to bring members of the N.C. 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 N.C. Section of the International Dark-sky Association, and a Center for Astronomy Education Regional Teaching Exchange.

Because of the pandemic-related complications during spring/summer 2022, we chose to schedule this year's event virtually with assistance from Guilford College, as was done in 2021.

Plenary Lecture: Rebekah Dawson, Penn State University

Multifaceted Views of Exoplanet Systems

Abstract: Over the past couple decades, thousands of extra-solar planets have been discovered orbiting other stars.The exoplanets discovered to date exhibit a wide variety of orbital and compositional properties; most are dramatically different from the planets in our own solar system. Our classical theories for the origins of planetary systems fail to account for the diversity of planets now known. In this talk, I'll discuss how multifaceted views of planetary systems — including orbital properties, system architectures, planetary compositions, and stellar properties — powerfully test theories for the origins and evolution of planetary systems. I will present results from simulations, comparisons to observed exoplanet populations and individual systems, and avenues for testing theories with ongoing and upcoming missions and surveys.

Rebekah Dawson is the Penn State University Astronomy & Astrophysics Shaffer Career Development Associate Professor of and Associate Head for the Graduate Program. She received her Bachelor of Arts in astrophysics from Wellesley College, a doctorate of philosphy in astronomy and astrophysics from Harvard University, and was a Miller Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research interests include extra-solar planets, debris disks, dynamics of planetary and satellite systems, the Kuiper Belt, planet formation, and signal processing. Her work was recently recognized by the American Astronomical Society Helen B. Warner Prize (2021) and American Astronomical Society Division of Planetary Science Harold C. Urey Prize (2020).

See this profile of Dr. Dawson by Astrobites.

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 are asked to complete the 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, 22 September.

Register Now

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 through an online form. 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

Join NCAM 2022 on Zoom

Download the meeting program with abstracts. (PDF)

NCAM 2022  Saturday, 24 Sept. 2022
Time Session
9:00 a.m. Plenary Lecture

Rebekah Dawson (Penn State University)
Multifaceted Views of Exoplanet Systems
10:20 a.m. Posters Breakouts

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 attendees.

Photometric BVRI Observations and the First Analyses of the Totally Eclipsing, Solar Type Binary, V1063 Cassiopeia
Dan Caton (Appalachian State University)
Poster link

Astrometric Analysis of 4 Double Star Systems
Jack Cleveland (Davidson College)
Poster (PDF)

Kinematic Distance to NGC 6309
Scott Scharlach (PARI/Tufts University/Pomona College)
Poster (PDF)

11:00 a.m. Oral Session I – Short Talks

Nicholas Law (UNC-Chapel Hill)
Exploring the Deep, High-Cadence Sky with the Argus Optical Array

Hank Corbett (UNC-Chapel Hill)
The Terabit Sky: Implementation and Status of the Argus Array Hierarchical Data Processing System

Ian Branigan (NCSSM)
A Photometric Search for Atmospheres Around Kepler/K2 Exoplanets Through Comparison with TESS Data

Amanda Peake (Wake Forest University/PARI)
Interstellar Meteoroids

Dan Caton (Appalachian State University)
NC IDA Update

12:15 p.m. There will be a short lunch break period between the end of the short talk session and the NCIDA meeting.
1:15 p.m. Oral Session II – Short Talks

Aidan Lytle (UNC-Greensboro)
Computational Topology detects and Classifies Solar Phenomena

Holly Burroughs (UNC-Greensboro)
Improving the Orbit of the Double-Lined Binary system 2 Lac

Scott Scharlach (PARI/Tufts University/Pomona College)
Kinematic Distance to NGC 6309

Enrique Gómez (Western Carolina)
Letting the Universe Erupt into the Classroom

Ken Brandt (Robeson Planetarium/USCB)
Robeson Planetarium Update

2:40 p.m. Regional Teaching Exchange

Note: Dr. Dawson will also give a public lecture the night before NCAM (7:30 p.m. Friday, 23 September)

"Beyond Eta Earth: Exoplanets as a Window on the History and Habitability of Planetary Systems"

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”