of Central Maryland
HAL Observing Sites
All HAL Star Parties are held in locations which are smoke free by law. Help us protect our ability to use these sites by not smoking. Thanks.
The Howard Astronomical League holds regularly scheduled star parties at Alpha Ridge Park from March through November. Impromptu viewing sessions can occur at any time and are communicated via the e-mail group. These impromptu events are often held at Carrs Mill Park, but not always.
A county permit is required for public events at Alpha Ridge Park only. The observatory director keeps a master copy of all permitted public events in the observatory. A key is needed to open the gate at either site. For Alpha Ridge Park only, all keyholders also have a key to ensure that the restroom is unlocked during ALL HAL events.The number of available keys is limited -- members who are interested in being placed on the key waiting list and /or that wish to become Certified Telescope Operators should contact the HAL Treasurer (hal_treasurer at howardastro dot org). A $50 deposit is required when the key is delivered.
NOTE: New feature below. Clicking on the Map links for either site now does more than just showing a map of the Park area. It also allows you to enter your starting address and then print out custom turn-by-turn directions.
Alpha Ridge Park (Map)11685 Old Frederick Rd
Marriottsville, MD 21104
Coordinates (at gate off Old Frederick Rd [Route 99])
Lat: 39° 19' 15" North
Long: 76° 54' 46" West
This location is the home of HAL's new "Howard Astronomical League Observatory" at Alpha Ridge Park (HALO). Since HAL was not sure when the facility would be open when the 2015 event calendar was created, the current star party schedule is still limited to one Public event per month. As members become more familiar with operation of the scope and more members become certified operators, the number of public open dates will probably increase. Check the HAL calendar or the star parties web pages periodically for the latest updates.
Public and Member's Only star parties and occasional special events are held at Alpha Ridge Park at sundown. The date changes monthly to coincide with the best lunar viewing so please check the calendar for the next date. Alpha Ridge Park has newly expanded park facilities with more paved parking areas, upgraded lighting, and restroom facilities. Warning: there are steel posts in the parking area that can't be seen unless your headlights are on.
Both public and member's only events are posted on the public "Howardastro" Yahoogroup. Whether the event is open to the public or to member's only is communicated on that Yahoogroup. We ask non-members to respect the member's only events. During public events HAL members are often busy all evening allowing guests to use their equipment. The member's only events allow HAL members the "quiet time" needed for private observing.
Iridium Flares, Satellites, etc. visible at Alpha Ridge Park.
Carrs Mill Park (Map)
15900 Carrs Mill Rd
Coordinates (at gate off Carrs Mill Rd)
This site is used solely for Member's Only Impromptu star parties. These events are communicated on a Member's Only Opt-in e-mail list. This is a small location and there just isn't enough room for non-HAL members.
Carrs Mill Park is a dark site (dark for this area), but is somewhat rustic. There are no "facilities" of any kind, and the parking area is gravel rather than pavement. Also, smoking or open flames are not allowed, no exceptions. (The Carrs Mill Park property includes a few methane ground vents that are potentially hazardous in the presence of open flames.)
The entrance to Carrs Mill Park is not well marked. We have included some photos of Carrs Mill Park, including the entrance, that will help you locate it if you are coming out for the first time.
Iridium Flares, Satellites, etc. visible at Carrs Mill Park
© 1999-2016 Howard Astronomical League
All Rights Reserved