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What's New with HAL?

Our July HAL General Meeting (open to the public) was well attended - over 60 people! The topic was Exoplanets: Finding Life in the Galaxy. Thanks to Dr. Rob Zellem, an exoplanet astronomer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who spoke about his work on characterizing exoplanets, planets outside of our own Solar System, with the ultimate goal of finding life. [Read more...]

The next HAL General Meeting will be August 19th.

Our first Solar Observing and Imaging (Astro School) (members only) will be held Saturday, July 17th at 9AM to Noon at Alpha Ridge Park. Phil is looking forward to leading this session. If you have a solar telescope, glasses, binoculars, or other method of safely observing the Sun, please bring them along with you. Phil will be bringing a variety of solar observing tools. 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.

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

Public Star Party held Saturday, July 17th at 8:45PM at Alpha Ridge Park. 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.

The next HAL Planning Meeting (members only) will be held on Monday, August 2nd at 7PM. Zoom information is now available to members via login.

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

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All Rights Reserved

Last modified: July 28, 2021 @ 17:00 EST