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HAL Meetings in 2023

HAL General Meetings (Open to the Public)

  • Meetings are currently held virtually via Zoom. Watch for updates!
  • For specific meeting dates, see the HAL Calendar.
  • Additional information is announced via the HowardAstro Google Group.
  • All HAL Meetings (and star parties) are held in locations which are smoke free by law. Help us protect our ability to use these facilities by not smoking.

General Meetings are held from 7:00PM to approximately 9:00 on the 3rd Thursday of every month via Zoom (until further notice).

HAL Planning Meetings (Open to All Members)

Planning Meetings to discuss future club direction, events, meeting topics, outreach, etc. are open to all members. Attendance is encouraged. They are usually held from 7:00 to 8:00PM on the 1st Monday of every month via Zoom (until further notice).

Sometimes these meetings are rescheduled or cancelled due to holidays or board member unavailability. Check our home page, posts to the HowardAstro Google Group, or the HAL calendar.

HAL's COVID-19 Policy for Events - Updated May 2023

  • In Howard County, COVID-19 community level is Low. We are following Howard County guidelines:
  • Face coverings are optional inside the Alpha Ridge HALO building. People may choose to mask at any time.
  • If you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms or have tested positive for COVID, please be considerate of others and refrain from attending HAL 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.

2023 General Meeting Topics / Speakers
Jan. 19

Thursday, January 19th, 2023 beginning at 7:00PM

Topic: NOAA'S Joint Polar Satellite System, JPSS-2, the Sequel

Presenter: Ted Leoutsakos, NASA - JPSS Deployed Systems Team Senior Engineer

Artifacts: Presentation PDF | Video Recording on YouTube | Chat Log

Ted Leoutsakos

Back by popular demand! Ted presented to HAL about the first JPSS mission in January 2021. His 2023 presentation will provide details about JPSS-2, the new mission. JPSS-2 successfully lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base on Nov. 10, 2022.

The Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) is the nation's new generation polar-orbiting operational environmental satellite system. JPSS is a collaborative program between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its acquisition agent, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). JPSS provides critical environmental satellite data to support NOAA's ongoing mission to understand and predict changes in the weather, oceans and climate.

Ted Leoutsakos has extensive NASA/DOD and commercial experience with broad end-to-end satellite systems engineering knowledge in complex system integration, testing, operations, training, and ground system development with over a dozen missions under his belt. A life-long Star Trek fan, Ted recalls his dad taking him to the library at age 5 to check out his first read entitled "The Book of Rockets", and the rest is history…

Feb 16

Thursday, February 16th, 2023

Topic: Defending Planet Earth: The Double Asteroid Redirection Test

Presenter: Dr. Angela Stickle, DART Impact Modeling Working Group Lead, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory

Artifacts: Presentation PDF | Video Recording on YouTube | Chat Log

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) was the first planetary defense test mission. The DART spacecraft purposefully ran into a small asteroid, Dimorphos, on September 26, 2022, in order to test asteroid deflection. DART was a huge success, changing Dimorphos’s orbital period by around 30 minutes and generating many tons of ejecta. We will discuss planetary defense, the DART mission, initial results from the team and how we are using those results to learn more about Dimorphos, Didymos, and future applications to planetary defense.

Dr. Angela Stickle is a planetary geologist with a background in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, and impact processes on planetary surfaces. She specializes in hypervelocity impact processes and dynamic failure of materials. Dr Stickle is currently a senior research scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. She is the Deputy Principal-Investigator for the Mini-RF radar, a Co-I for the LRO-LAMP instrument aboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the impact modeling working group lead for the Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission, and a Co-I on the Dragonfly mission. Her research includes analyzing young impact craters on the Moon to better understand ejecta emplacement processes, impact modeling on asteroids and rocky/icy bodies, planetary defense testing, and working to understand and evaluate available technology for future lunar surface missions. Asteroid 36986 Stickle is named in her honor.

Dr. Angela Stickle
Mar 16

Thursday, March 16th, 2023

Topic: Dragonfly: Flights of Exploration on an Exotic Ocean World

Presenter: Dr. Melissa Trainer, NASA GSFC / Planetary Scientist

Artifacts: Presentation PDF | Video Recording on YouTube | Chat Log

Dr. Melissa Trainer

Titan is the only moon in our solar system with a dense atmosphere, which supports an Earth-like hydrological cycle of methane clouds, rain, lakes, and seas. Complex organic surface materials may preserve, in a deep freeze, the types of organic chemicals that would have been present on Earth before life developed. The Dragonfly mission to Titan will characterize its habitability and determine how far prebiotic chemistry has progressed in environments known to provide the necessary ingredients for life. The mission comprises a single rotorcraft lander with a sophisticated scientific payload, designed to take advantage of Titan's environment and achieve wide-ranging exploration goals by flying to sites in different geologic settings.

Dr. Melissa Trainer is a planetary scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) with expertise in the composition of planetary atmospheres and the production of organic molecules and aerosols via in situ synthesis pathways. Dr. Trainer currently serves as a Deputy Principal Investigator (PI) for the Dragonfly mission to Saturn's moon Titan, part of the NASA Planetary Science New Frontiers Program. She is also the lead for the Dragonfly Mass Spectrometer (DraMS), which enables the investigation of Titan's surface composition and characterization of potential prebiotic chemistry.

Apr 20

Thursday, April 20th, 2023

Topic: Discussion

Presenter: HAL Members

Artifacts: Presentation PDF | Video Recording on YouTube | Chat Log


May 18

Thursday, May 18th, 2023

Topic: Exploring the Solar System and Beyond – the Role of NASA’s Deep Space Network

Presenter: Glen Nagle, Science Communicator, Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

Artifacts: Presentation PDF | Video Recording on YouTube | Chat Log

Glen will be speaking on the role that Canberra plays as part of NASA’s Deep Space Network, and the dozens of deep space robotic missions exploring our solar system and beyond. He will also discuss the vital role of communications in the success of the Artemis missions designed to return humans to the surface of the Moon in the next few years.

Glen Nagle is the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) communications officer for the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC). He has been employed there since March 2002. His work focuses on educating and promoting space science to the wider community and especially to the younger generation, with the goal of exciting them about engineering, science and mathematics. Glen's professional career in the space and education sector has spanned over 38 years. He has worked with organisations to promote international and domestic development of space science related services and technology and has supported several space conference and industry groups. Glen has been an active grassroots promoter of science to schools and the public and shares his enthusiasm through public speaking and media appearances. Glen has also worked at the CSIRO’s Parkes Radio Telescope, the Australia Telescope Compact Array and is currently also supporting NASA Operation activities at the Canberra complex.

Glen Nagle’s work has also extended to areas such as the internet, either designing or contributing to a number of science related websites, and as a keen graphic designer has produced artworks that have appeared in several books, magazines and scientific journals. He is a regular guest on several syndicated radio programs and on television through programs such as Catalyst and Sunrise. For three years and 100 episodes, Glen also hosted his own weekly television program about space exploration and astronomy on ABC2 called ‘Skywatch’. Glen’s knowledge, enthusiasm and passion for space exploration comes across in all his work, presentations and public outreach activities.

Glen Nagle
June 15

Thursday, June 15th, 2023

Topic: The First Isolated Black Hole

Presenter: Dr. Jay Anderson, Observatory Scientist, Space Telescope Science Institute

Quick Zoom Link. More options on home page.

Dr. Jay Anderson, Observatory Scientist

Since Black Holes emit no light, they are hard to find. Some super-massive black holes can be found at the centers of galaxies, since gas often dribbles onto them and lights up. Other regular-sized black holes can be seen when they are part of a binary system, either from orbital motion or from dribble from their companion. Kailash Sahu and I have been pursuing a HST program to find isolated black holes that have been meandering through the Galaxy. I will report on our recent finding of an isolated BH of about 7 solar masses.

Brief Bio:

  • 1986-1990: BA in Physics and French from Rice University
  • 1990-1997: PhD in Astronomy from UC Berkeley
  • 1997-2007: Post-doc on grant money
  • 2007-present: Observatory Scientist at Space Telescope Science Institute

Jul 20

Thursday, July 20th, 2023

Topic: TBA

Presenter: TBA


Aug 17

Thursday, August 17th, 2023

Topic: TBA

Presenter: TBA


Sept 21

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Topic: The Art and Science of Visualizing Webb Imagery

Presenter: Alyssa Pagan, Science Visuals Developer, Space Telescope Science Institute

Zoom link will appear here early in September.

The amazing visions from the Webb Space Telescope have captivated the world. However, there is a long and involved process by which the scientist's black and white observational data are transformed into dynamic color imagery for the public. Join image specialist Alyssa Pagan as she demonstrates, in detail, the art and science of translating infrared light beginning with acquiring the data to finalizing the press release imagery which is intended to inform, inspire and engage the public.

Alyssa Pagan is a Science Visuals Developer who works in the Office of Public Outreach within the Space Telescope Science Institute. Using her background in Art and Science, she works closely with astronomers to create color images of space that are intended both to educate, inspire and showcase the beauty of our Universe.

Alyssa Pagan

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2021 Meetings - Speakers and Topics
2022 Meetings - Speakers and Topics

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Last modified: May 29, 2023 @ 11:15 EST