Skip to main content

Bernie McNamara

Bernie McNamara
Professor Emeritus
APO Staff, Affiliate Faculty, Emeritus Faculty

Contact Info
bmcnamar at

Expertise: Stellar Dynamics




Dr. McNamara possesses a broad focus in the area of stellar astronomy and astrophysics using X-ray and optical data. He conducts research on short period variable stars, such as LMXBs, Algols, and Delta Scuti stars, and has been active in the field of stellar dynamics. He has published several papers in the former area and has participated in and coordinated world-wide networks of variable star observers. In the latter area he has recently employed Hubble Space Telescope data to examine the internal motions and physical properties of the globular cluster M15. One of the major aims of that study was to determine whether this compact cluster possess a central massive black hole. Dr. McNamara has also worked on Gamma-ray bursts and headed a world-wide network of observatories dedicated to uncovering the optical counterparts of these objects.

Dr. McNamara and seventh-year graduate student Jillian Bornak, with collaborator Dr. Tom Harrison, are conducting an infrared survey of low-mass X-ray binaries with neutron star primaries to better understand the morphologies of both primary and secondary stars within such systems. Dr. McNamara is also working with first-year graduate student Sean Markert.



Dr. McNamara has taught both undergraduate and graduate classes. He is the author of the in-class student workbook – Investigating Astronomy, Model Building and Critical Thinking, the textbook Into the Final Frontier (an overview of human spaceflight), a student supplementary workbook for Into the Final Frontier, and two additional student workbooks in the sciences aimed at college Education Majors. He has been an invited panel member on the topic of Educational Assessment, and has served as a curriculum reviewer for the National Science Foundation.


Selected publications:

Searching for Low-Mass Binary Companions in M35 Using the Fine Guidance Sensors of the Hubble Space Telescope
McNamara, B. J., Harrison, T. E., & McArthur, B. 2007, AJ, 133, 394

Monitoring the Mass Accretion Rate in Scorpius X-1 Using the Optical Johnson B Filter
McNamara, B. J., Norwood, J., Harrison, T. E., Holtzman, J., Dukes, R., & Barker, T. 2005, ApJ, 623, 1070

The Dynamical Distance to M15: Estimates of the Cluster’s Age and Mass and of the Absolute Magnitude of Its RR Lyrae Stars
McNamara, B. J., Harrison, T. E., & Baumgardt, H. 2004, ApJ, 602, 264

Does M15 Possess an Intermediate-Mass Black Hole in its Core?
McNamara, B. J., Harrison, T. E., & Anderson, J. 2003, ApJ, 595, 187

The Behavior of the Optical and X-ray Emission from Sco X-1
McNamara, B. J., Harrison, T. E., Zavala, R. T., et al. 2003 AJ, 125, 1437

The Origin of the Cyclic Period Changes in Close Binaries: The Case of the Algol Binary WW Cygni
Zavala, R. T., McNamara, B. J., Harrison, T. E., et al. 2002 AJ, 123, 450


All Publications