HAL Website Search:

Members Star Party:

HAL NEWS Plus Star Party and Outreach Reports

June 16, 2018 Public Star Party

Tonight's HAL Public Star Party was rain-free and well-attended. I closed the gates at 11:30pm. I counted 54 cars and Jim Johnson counted people, well over 100. There were lots of scopes and people, with numerous family groups as well as Scouts. No one had to wait long to get a look through one of the numerous scopes. There were no large scopes but this was not a good night for deep sky. The Moon and Venus were low and often obscured by clouds, but Jupiter put on a decent show, although there was no Red Spot or moon transit. The evening's highlight was the introduction of the Illig Tak apo refractor on its AP 1200 mount, a lovely and important instrument and generous gift.

Some people showed up well before the official HAL event time of 8:30pm, responding to the HC Parks and Recreation announced time of 7- to 9, or some such. In the future, we need to avoid miscommunication start and closing times.

A high quality black extension tube was found after tonight's event, lost either tonight or during a recent AR session. The tube was put in the Observatory desk drawer. Contact me or other HAL officer to arrange pickup during a future HAL event.

Clear skies,

Bob Provine
Public Star Party Host

June 15, 2018 Impromptu Star Party @ Alpha Ridge Park

We had a great impromptu at AR last night. There about 10 scopes and 15 people, and everyone had a good night.  The conditions were nearly ideal, just a little damp and a bit cool.  As promised, we stayed late with the last of us leaving at about 2am.  HALO was used by a group to prepare for tonight's public star party.  The Illig scope was performing well, with an impressive image of Jupiter and several DSOs. 

Hope to see many of you at tonight's public event!

Wayne (Baggett)

June 14, 2018 Impromptu Star Party @ Alpha Ridge Park

It was like old times. I lost count of the number of people who showed up at Alpha Ridge tonight. You'd almost think it was a scheduled star party instead of just an impromptu. Amazing what a few planets and some clear skies will do!

Bob (Prokop)

I counted 9 scopes (10 with the observatory) and at least a dozen HAL members.  It was a perfect evening, we got great pictures with the observatory and when I left after midnight Wayne and Ken were still going strong.  One of the best nights I've seen in Maryland with absolutely delightful shirtsleeve temperatures, clear skies and no dew or wind.  The planetary seeing didn't seem bad either in the few minutes I looked at Jupiter before it got dark enough to do deep sky with the Illig scope.

David (Stein) HAL Events Coordinator

June 9, 2018 Members Star Party

Unfortunately we were clouded out last night.  Let's hope for better weather for next week's public star party!

David (Stein)

May 24th, 2018 Impromptu (Members Only)

We had a great impromptu last night at Alpha Ridge.  The weather was cool but not cold, the sky was clear and had periods of excellent stability, and the Moon and Jupiter were bright.  We had nine members attend, including two past presidents of HAL.  I saw some great views, including the Great Red Spot as it rotated into view on Jupiter.  The sky was getting even better at midnight and I hated to leave, but I couldn't stay awake any longer.  Garry kindly agreed to stay later and lock up for me.

It would be wonderful to get weather like that for our next (members only) star party on Saturday June 9!

David (Stein)

May 19, 2018 HAL Public Star Party

Despite total cloud cover, fog and light rain, eight (!) people (three family groups) showed up, a very positive sign of astro interest in Howard County. All want to come to our next public event. Cloudy nights are a good chance to discus the club, observing, and telescope tips.


Bob Provine

April 21, 2018 HAL Public Star Party

Well the clouds did clear somewhat last night at AR for our public star party. The moon was our only good target but our HALO operators Mike Kraus and Dave Stein had a beautiful image of the moon on the screen inside the dome.

I saw around 30 to 40 cars in the parking lot but failed on the head count. Lines on the scopes were not to bad of a wait.

Not sure who did the solar system walk for the crowd but boy were they in for a walk around AR (i got tired just watching) but sure they got lots of information.

While we were closing up for the night a family arrived late and asked were they might find a place were the kids could lay on blankets and look up at the sky. Our dome operators stepped up and turned the light off and stayed awhile longer just for the kids, three cheers for those two.

Crossed fingers for our next events coming in May.

Eddie (Crawford)

Greenfest April 21, 2018

Great time and lots of sunshine at HCC and GREENFEST yesterday. Chris Miskiewicz, Phil Whitebloom, and I talked to 60 to 80 people who stopped by to experience safe solar viewing, learn about gravity at Chris’ gravity well, and talk about the Solar System over the model.

The pictures are: Phil with H Alpha scope; Chris with his H Alpha and white light filter scopes; Chris’ gravity well; Phis had a series of books and material about the Sun; and the HAL section on the quad.

Sent by Bob Savoy

April 4, 2018 HAL Members Only Star Party

Weather reports earlier in the day were mixed but ten members believed in the group observing together with good weather. We setup around HALO and waited for the sky to darken and clear, oh did it clear. We were treated to final views of the winter constellations, the ISS fly over, and Venus. Then, we started to take in star clusters and galaxies as the night continued. Some light clouds starting to come in around 11 so we called it a good night for observing and packed up. 

Chris Miskiewicz

April 14, 2018 Solar Observing at Clarksville Commons

A very successful outreach event was held at Clarksville Commons. Bob Savoy and I set up white light and H-Alpha scopes as part of the Center’s Earth Day celebration a week early. Even though there is not much visible activity on the Sun right now, views of our home star still brought wows from kids and adults alike, and we had fun talking about the newly observed coronal hole (unfortunately only visible in UV).

Joel "StarDoc" Goodman

March 24, 2018 First Public Star Party

Whoever said you can not have a great night of outreach and observing with clouds in the sky. The cold weather and snow melting did not hold back the 86+ people from attending last night! The moon was swimming in thin cloud cover but it didn't keep people from observing at the eyepiece.

For many, it was the first view from a telescope and everyone was very impressed with the views of the different craters and contrast along the terminator.

Outside we had three telescopes setup and the Watson shared views inside along with short presentations on all things fun related to astronomy. We all looked up to observe the International Space Station transit which capped off the evening. 

Looking forward to another great night. 

Clear Skies, or in this case even think cloud cover!
Chris Miskiewicz

March 17, 2018 First Member's Only Star Party

Only three HAL members showed up, I stayed till 5am and got to see Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn all in one night.

James Stack

March 2, 2018 Outreach Report

This past Friday night, Bob Savoy, Bob Dutilly, and I represented HAL before and after the family and adult planetarium shows at the Robinson Nature Center. We had a variety of refractors, reflectors, and H-alpha scopes to display and talk about.. We handed out HAL cards to the receptive crowd and touted our public star party season opening on Saturday, March 24th.

For anyone new to HAL and looking for opportunities to conduct outreach besides at our public star parties, the HAL Board accepts a limited number of invitations to be featured as a club elsewhere besides Alpha Ridge.  Check the HAL calendar for events the Board has committed to well in advance, or keep an eye out for an email call for volunteers in the days just before an  outreach event.

Joel Goodman
Observatory Director

© 1999-2018 Howard Astronomical League
All Rights Reserved