HAL Website Search:

Alpha Ridge Star Parties Canceled.
Meetings Virtual Until Further Notice.

Howard Astronomical League - Meetings

(Currently held virtually via Zoom and NOT at the locations noted below.)

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. Thanks.

Specific dates for the meetings below can be found on the HAL Calendar page. Additional information is communicated near the event in the howardastro Yahoo e-mail group.

HAL General Meetings (Open to the Public, Virtual via Zoom Until Further Notice)

This Year's Meeting Topics / Speakers or Jump to Next Meeting

  • HAL's monthly meetings are held at 7:00PM on the 3rd Thursday of every month at:

          The Robinson Nature Center (Map)

          6692 Cedar Lane

          Columbia, MD 21044


Click here for more information on this great new facility: Robinson Nature Center.


Note: The Robinson Nature Center closes at 5PM and reopens at 6PM just for the HAL meeting.
Do not arrive before 6PM or you will need to wait outside.

HAL Planning Meetings (Open to All Members, Virtually via Zoom until Further Notice)

  • Monthly Planning meetings to discuss future club direction, events, meeting topics, outreach, etc. are open to all members.  Attendance is  encouraged. These are held from 7:00-8:00PM on the first Monday of most months* at:

    Wegman's Market 2nd Floor Dining Area (Map)
    8855 McGaw Rd
    Columbia, MD 21045

* Sometimes the normal Planning Meeting date falls on a holiday in which case the meetings could be either cancelled or rescheduled. Occasionally, the meetings get cancelled or rescheduled due to board member unavailability. Therefore, check the calendar page, the top of the home page, and/or posting on the howardastro e-mail group to be sure a specific meeting will be held.

2021 General Meeting Topics / Speakers
Jan. 21

Thursday, January 21st, 2021 beginning at 7:00PM

Topic: NOAA'S Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)

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

Ted Leoutsakos

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.

Feb. 18

Thursday, February 18th beginning at 7:00PM

Topic: Chandra X-Ray Observatory

Presenter: Dr. Harvey Tananbaum - former director of Chandra XRAY Center

Dr. Tananbaum served as Director of the Chandra X-Ray Center (CXC) at the Smithsonian Astrophsycial Observatory in Cambridge, Mass. from 1991-2014. The CXC is responsible for operating the Chandra X-Ray Observatory in orbit, for supporting the broad community of scientists who observe with Chandra, and for disseminating the Chandra science results to the public.

Dr. Tananbaum received his B. A. in physics from Yale University in 1964, and his Ph.D. in physics from MIT in 1968. He began his career as a Staff Scientist at American Science & Engineering, Inc., and has been an Astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) since 1973. He directed SAO's High Energy Astrophysics Division from 1981 through 1993. Dr. Tananbaum has been involved with a number of space science missions in the high energy/X-ray field, serving as Project Scientist for the UHURU (SAS-A) X-ray Satellite (1969-1973), as Scientific Program Manager for the first imaging X-ray telescope, the HEAO-2/Einstein mission (1972-1981), and as Principal Investigator and Director of the Einstein Data Center (1981-1994). In 1976, he and Riccardo Giacconi led the team which proposed to NASA to initiate the study and design of a large X-ray telescope that was launched 23 years later, in 1999, as the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. He was the team leader for SAO's Chandra mission study and mirror development efforts, and he organized and led the team which was selected competitively in 1991 to develop and operate the science center for the Chandra mission. Dr. Tananbaum has been working in X-ray astronomy since his graduate days at MIT. His thesis research was on a mysterious, highly variable cosmic x-ray source. Later, when he was project scientist for the Uhuru X-ray Satellite, observations by the satellite were instrumental in showing that this source - Cygnus X-1 - was powered by matter falling into a black hole. Dr. Tananbaum received the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal in 1980, the NASA Public Service Award in 1988, and the NASA Medal for Outstanding Leadership in 2000. He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has served on numerous NASA and National Research Council advisory committees and as a Vice-president of the American Astronomical Society.

In 2004, he was awarded the Bruno Rossi prize of the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society, along with Dr. Martin Weisskopf the Chandra Project Scientist, for ", dedication, and leadership in the development, testing, and operation of the Chandra X-ray Observatory." In 2005, Dr. Tananbaum was elected as a member to the National Academy of Science, considered one of the highest honors that can be awarded to a U.S. scientist or engineer.

Dr. Harvey Tananbaum
Mar. 18

Thursday, March 18th, 2021 beginning at 7:00PM

Topic: Gravity: The Force of Creation

Presenter: Dr. Benjamin Schumacher, Professor of Physics at Kenyon College

Quick Zoom Link - more Zoom options on our home page

Dr. Benjamin Schumacher

Dr. Benjamin Schumacher is Professor of Physics at Kenyon College, where he has taught for 20 years. He received his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from The University of Texas at Austin in 1990. Professor Schumacher is the author of numerous scientific papers and two books, including Physics in Spacetime: An Introduction to Special Relativity. As one of the founders of quantum information theory, he introduced the term qubit, invented quantum data compression (also known as Schumacher compression), and established several fundamental results about the information capacity of quantum systems. For his contributions, he won the 2002 Quantum Communication Award, the premier international prize in the field, and was named a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Besides working on quantum information theory, he has done physics research on black holes, thermodynamics, and statistical mechanics. Professor Schumacher has spent sabbaticals working at Los Alamos National Laboratory and as a Moore Distinguished Scholar at the Institute for Quantum Information at California Institute of Technology. He has also done research at the Isaac Newton Institute of Cambridge University, the Santa Fe Institute, the Perimeter Institute, the University of New Mexico, the University of Montreal, the University of Innsbruck, and the University of Queensland.

Apr. 15

Thursday, April 15th, 2021 beginning at 7:00PM

Topic: How is radio astronomy different from optical astronomy?

Presenter: Sue Ann Heatherly, Senior Education Officer Green Bank Observatory

Quick Zoom Link - more Zoom options on our home page

Sue Ann Heatherly is the Senior Education Officer at the Green Bank Observatory in Green Bank, WV. Ms. Heatherly started her career as a science teacher in rural West Virginia, and in 1987 she participated in the first teacher workshop held at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. In 1989 she was hired by the Observatory to expand the education and outreach program.

The Green Bank Observatory is a real technical village -- the staff are composed of astronomers, engineers, technicians and software developers, machinists and mechanics and (3 educators). The observatory's mission is to provide state-of-the-art research facilities for the nation's astronomers. Astronomers from all over the world use the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope there, which is the world's largest fully steerable telescope.

Ms Heatherly's mission is to engage teachers and students in real-world scientific research experiences, and to share the excitement of scientific discovery with the public. Since her tenure began at the observatory she has written several successful grant proposals to the NSF and NASA which have allowed over 1500 teachers and tens of thousands of students to experience scientific research first-hand.

Note: If the 20 meter radio telescope is working, we will collect live data during the meeting.

Sue Ann Heatherly

2013 Meetings - Speakers and Topics
2014 Meetings - Speakers and Topics
2015 Meetings - Speakers and Topics
2016 Meetings - Speakers and Topics
2017 Meetings - Speakers and Topics
2018 Meetings - Speakers and Topics
2019 Meetings - Speakers and Topics
2020 Meetings - Speakers and Topics

© 1999-2021 Howard Astronomical League
All Rights Reserved

Last modified: April 03, 2021 @ 15:28 EST