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Coming December 18th: Winter Solstice Celebration - Under the Stars [see page 13]. Celebrate the longest night of the year with an evening of activities that explore the light and the dark! Enjoy a planetarium program to discover the significance of the solstice, myths, and folklore about our sun. Take in nature's winter beauty during a night hike as we examine how animals and plants prepare for the long nights and short days ahead. Warm up with a campfire and hot chocolate. [6 yrs + Robinson Nature Ctr] RP4873.550 Saturday, Dec 18 from 6:30-8:30pm, $10 fee. To register: or 410-313-PARK (410-313-7275).

The next HAL General Meeting is September 23rd, the 4th Thursday at 7pm. This meeting is open to the public. Dr. Dan Milisavljevic will be presenting: Observing the Next Galactic Supernova. [Read more...] Zoom link below.

    Topic: HAL September Monthly Meeting
    Time: Sep 23, 2021 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
                Note: 4th Thursday of September!
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    Passcode: sun
    Meeting ID: 870 0855 0076
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The next HAL Planning Meeting (members only) will be held on Monday, Oct. 4th at 7PM. Zoom information will be available to members via login near end of September.

Our next Public Star Party will be Saturday, October 16th around sunset at Alpha Ridge Park for International Observe the Moon Night. If you are comfortable sharing your telescope with members of the public, join us in setting up your telescope. It is also a great opportunity to experience different styles telescopes and sizes. If you are trying to decide which type of telescope you would like to purchase, this is the place to try them out and get great advice. The number one benefit is that it is a lot of fun. Read more about our Star Parties.

ALCON Virtual 2021, this year's Astronomical League Convention, was held virtually from Aug 19, 3:00 PM EDT to Aug 21, 11:00 PM EDT.
See also the website of MERAL, the Mid East Region Astronomical League (which includes Maryland and HAL).

Our first Solar Observing and Imaging (Astro School) (members only) was held Saturday, July 17th at 9AM to Noon at Alpha Ridge Park. Phil lead this session encouraging those with a solar telescope, glasses, binoculars, or other method of safely observing the Sun to bring them along. Topics covered:

  • What are we actually observing when we look at the Sun
  • Solar Safety
  • White Light Observing
  • Hydrogen-Alpha Observing
  • Why are the differences and benefits of different types of solar scopes
  • Imaging
Note: A follow-up Zoom session will be scheduled where we can process solar images together.
See the recap of the Solar Astro School event.

Our second Virtual Public Star Party, April 17th was very successful! We had over 20 participants that stayed just short of 3 hours. Phil thanks Chuck Cynamon, Brad Martin, Jim Johnson, and Gene Handler for their preparations, presentations, and leading discussions. [Read more...]

Second Virtual Star Party - Zoom Recording [2:40; 716 MB]

Astro School - Polar Alignment Report from Phil: "I would very much like to thank John Nagy for conducting Astro School [on April 8th]. We had 32 participants. The questions and conversations went much deeper than I would have ever expected on the topic of polar alignment. It was very interesting to learn of John's methodology on how he did trial and error, as well as measured the relative differences going from no polar aligning to using different tools." [Read more...]

Mars Report: Update on NASA's Perseverance & Curiosity Rovers "With no road maps on Mars, I'm building my own as I go. There are lots of places I want to explore, and mapping while I drive will help me see and do more. " [Watch on Facebook...]

NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter

What's happening with the Mars 2020 mission and Perseverance?

to the Howard Astronomical League. HAL is an astronomy club located in Howard County, Maryland. We hold monthly meetings on the lower (mezzanine) level of the Robinson Nature Center in Columbia, MD, conduct public star parties at Alpha Ridge Park utilizing the "HALO" observatory, and provide community outreach events at various Howard County locations - often in public library parking lots. We invite everyone to be a part of amateur astronomy with us. You will find information about our meeting dates on the Our Meetings page. Information on membership is located on the HAL Membership page.

HAL's COVID-19 Policy for Events

  • For HAL impromptu and member-only star parties, participants should wait for an invitation before approaching to look through others’ telescopes; respect each other’s desires for social distancing.
  • Face coverings are encouraged for non-vaccinated people while participating outdoors.
  • Face coverings are required for all inside the Alpha Ridge HALO building.

Currently, the monthly board of directors' planning meeting, Astroschool, and the HAL public meeting are being held virtually using Zoom. Check back frequently for updates. HAL looks forward to resuming in-person gatherings.

The parks have now re-opened. HAL is now scheduling public events. HAL keyholders are also free to call members-only impromptu observing sessions via the closed hal_impromptu email list for Carrs Mill Park or Alpha Ridge Park.

Join Us
for our Star Parties and Outreach events. We also provide an e-mail group for communication of timely club News and for astronomical discussions.

to help plan your observing sessions is available on the calendar page or the astrolinks page -- where you can check for moonrise times, Iridium flares, International Space Station sightings, Jupiter's Great Red Spot transit and a lot more. And don't forget to check the weather before you venture out.

HAL's Observatory at Alpha Ridge Park (HALO)
HALO houses HAL's 6 inch "Illig" Refracting telescope. Check these web pages for full details about the observatory. For a schedule of events at the observatory, check the HAL star parties page or the HAL calendar.

HAL is proud to have official affiliations with:

RNC Robinson Nature Center Astronomical League
Howard County Recreation & Parks

Alpha Ridge Park
International Dark Sky Association
Howard County Conservancy Alpha Ridge Park

© 1999-2021 Howard Astronomical League
All Rights Reserved

Last modified: September 21, 2021 @ 09:56 EST