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Howard Astronomical League - Meetings

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 HAL e-mail group.

HAL General Meetings (Open to the Public)

This Year's Meeting Topics / Speakers

  • 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

HAL Planning Meetings (Open to All Members)

  • 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 Planning Meeting date falls on a holiday in which case the meetiings could be either cancelled or rescheduled. ' Occasionally, the meetings get cancelled due to lack of agenda items. Therefore, check the calendar page, the top of the home page, and/or posting on the e-mail group to be sure a specific meeting will be held.

2018 General Meeting Topics / Speakers

January 18

HAL Annual Election, Annual Treasurer's Report & astrophotos.

Guest Speaker:
Dr. Avi M. Mandell, NASA GSFC – Goddard Center for Astrobiology

Hot Jupiters and Lava Planets: Exploring the Diversity of Exoplanets Environments

After 20 years of discovery, we know of thousands of planetary systems, many with multiple planets and some that strongly resemble our own Solar System.  But we are only now beginning to achieve the detailed observations necessary to consider the physical properties of exoplanets beyond the basics of mass and radius.  In this talk I will provide a status update on the population of known exoplanets, and describe the methods we are using to begin to probe the atmospheres and surfaces of planets around nearby stars.  These observations are only able to provide a first look at planetary properties, but we can begin to examine how models based on our knowledge of Solar System bodies map on to these observations. Just as important, we can look at predictions for what future observations and telescope capabilities will be most helpful in constraining the formation and evolution of planetary systems, searching for habitable worlds and eventually life among the stars.

Dr. Mandell is a scientist in the Planetary Systems Laboratory (693); his research focuses on the characterization of extrasolar planets and the formation and evolution of planetary systems, with the specific goal of understanding factors that determine whether a planetary system can form habitable planets and what the characteristics of these planets will be.  He works on analyzing observations of transiting and directly imaged exoplanets and circumstellar disks, as well as modeling spectra of planetary atmospheres and the dynamical evolution of planetesimals during the formation of terrestrial planets.  He is the Director of the GSFC Sellers Exoplanet Environments Collaboration, and is the Project Scientist for the Coronagraph Integral Field Spectrograph for the WFIRST space telescope. 

February 15

Guest Host: Joel Goodman

Guest Speaker: Dennis Conti, TESS Impromptu Talk

March 15

Guest Speaker: TBD

April 19

Guest Speaker:

Dr. Patrick Peplowski, Johns Hopkins APL – Space Exploration Sector
Mercury/MESSENGER Mission (tentative title)

May 17

June 21


July 19


August 16


September 20  
October 18  
November 15

Speaker: Dr. Albert Holm, Retired. Formerly a staff member for OAO-A2, the International Ultraviolet Explorer, and the Hubble Space Telescope.

Title: Out of this World Astronomy: The Orbiting Astronomical Observatory-A2 

Abstract: What could be better than a telescope on a high mountain? In 1946, Lyman Spitzer published a paper arguing for the development of a large telescope in space. The technology to do that did not exist then nor in the decades after Sputnik. The Orbiting Astronomical Observatory series provided stepping stones for developing and testing the technologies that eventually would be used for the Hubble Space Telescope, the implementation of Spitzer's dream. 2018 is the 50th anniversary of the December 7, 1968, launch of Orbiting Astronomical Observatory-A2, the first satellite to deliver astronomical data about stars, planets, and galaxies to Earth. This is the story of that mission, its operations, its discoveries, and its legacy. 

December 20 Holiday Potluck plus President Johnson's Year End Wrap-up.

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

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