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HAL Star Parties, Outreach Schedules, and Regional Star Parties

HAL Star Parties and Outreach

HAL's public star parties at Alpha Ridge Park (normally held from March through October or early November) start at sunset and end at 11pm.
Public star parties feature a relaxed, casual atmosphere where club members, other amateur astronomers from the area, and the public are all welcome to come and enjoy the wonders of the night sky. For detailed information about our star party viewing site and driving directions, click on this View Sites link. While most HAL Outreach events also happen during the warmer months, there are occasional winter events depending on what astronomical events may occur during that time. These include solar observations, comets, meteor showers, etc.
The tables below indicate which events are open to the Public at no charge and which are for Members Only. HAL also holds impromptu for members and their immediate guests that can happen almost any night of the year. Impromptus are never covered here on the HAL website. See below for more information.

HAL 2024 Star Party Schedule

Subject to weather conditions.

Star parties start at sunset and end at 11pm.

Alpha Ridge Area Note: Beginning June 17th, Marriottsville Road from Resort Road to US 40 will be closed to all traffic. See Detour Map.

Updated host assignments: 7/02/24

Month Date Invitees Host Host CTO Views/Events/Notes
March 09 Members Richard Ren         
March 16 Public Michael Krauss Chris Miskiewicz Hannah Broder   
April 06 Members Jared Case         
April 13 Public Krystal Rolon David Stein Richard Ren   
May 04 Members Victor Sanchez         
May 18 Public Joel Goodman Chris Miskiewicz Cheryl Kerr   
June 08 Members Jared Case         
June 15 Public Ken Everhart Phil Whitebloom Neville Fernandes   
July 06 Members Wayne Baggett         
July 13 Public Michael Krauss Joel Goodman Dale Ghent   
August 03 Members David Stein         
August 10 Public Krystal Rolon Neville Fernandes Hannah Broder   
September 07 Members Wayne Baggett         
September 14 Public Victor Sanchez David Stein Richard Ren International Observe The Moon Night
October 05 Members Hannah Broder         
October 26 Public Joel Goodman Cheryl Kerr Victor Sanchez Moonless night - Saturn is up
November 02 Members Wayne Baggett         
November 09 Public Ken Everhart Phil Whitebloom Dale Ghent   

HAL's Star Party Etiquette and Expectations

Outreach & Solar Observation Events

As a part of our mission to encourage public interest in astronomy, the space sciences, and STEM education,  HAL is sponsoring or co-sponsoring the following event. If there is a separate webpage with more information there will be an active link in the Event column, below.

Event Co-Sponsor Where When Host
To Be Announced TBD TBD TBD TBD

A Great Place To Begin an Adventure in Astronomy

HAL members bring all sorts of observing equipment: telescopes of all shapes and sizes, binoculars, solar viewers, and astro-photography and video setups. If you would like a look through our equipment, or if you just bought a telescope and would like some help with it, or even if you are just thinking about getting one and want to check a few out before buying - star parties are the perfect place to get your feet wet.

What Will We Be Looking At?

Observing targets really cover the full range of celestial treasures including the Sun, the Moon, the planets, double stars, deep sky objects such as galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters, and even orbiting satellites and the space station.

Details... details...

Starting time is usually sundown and ending time is officially at 11pm, although on nice evenings members often keep the park open a little later. There is plenty of parking at both parks (directions) and folks can arrive at anytime. Star parties are held twice each month, March to November, on Saturdays, and are scheduled around the lunar calendar - so check the HAL Calendar for upcoming dates.

Before You Head Out

Check the weather report for Mariottsville, MD for Alpha Ridge events. If you are on the Howardastro Googlegroups list check for notification e-mails from the list. Be sure to bring an extra layer or two of clothes just in case temperatures drop more than you expect. You can't have fun if you're cold! For public star parties the show goes on - rain or shine. If the weather is cloudy or worse, the observatory will still be open and presentations will be provided on our large flat panel screen.

What is Expected Of You At A Public Star Party?

Whether you own a telescope or not, we encourage folks of all ages to come on out, bring your friends and family, and let us share with you the beauties of one of our most precious natural resources - the night sky - in Howard County's very own public parks. HAL's amateur astronomers come from all walks of life and have a wide range of astronomy experience. We all share a passion for the sky's most stunning sights and love nothing more than to share those sights with others.

All participants must read Star Party Etiquette and Expectations.

Members-Only and Impromptu Star Parties

HAL members are fortunate to have access to both Alpha Ridge and Carrs Mill parks.  When select members with gate keys plan to open up one of the parks, they post an e-mail on the Members Only "HAL_Impromptu" e-mail group so that others may join.  Gate keyholders are encouraged to post the e-mail announcement as early as possible prior to the viewing session. When first joining HAL, all members are Opted-Out to the impromptu notification list which is set up using a Google Group called hal_impromptu.
See How to Join HAL's Impromptu Mailing List.
Once you are on the impromptu list, you can either reply to an existing impromptu list e-mail or initiate a new one using e-mail address
If you are an opted-in HAL Member but not a gate keyholder and want to attend impromptu viewing sessions, keep your eyes peeled for e-mail announcements.

Members must read Member-Only and Impromptu Star Party Etiquette and Expectations.

Regional Star Parties & Astro Events

Download PDF: 2024 Regional Star Party Dates and Websites - from MERAL (last updated 2/21/2024)

Please follow the links for the most current info (including dates).

Regional Star Party Info
Clear Sky Charts
(region specific charts below)
Winter Star Party
WSP Facebook page
Southern Cross Astronomical Society
Camp Sawyer, Big Pine Key, FL
Chaos Spring Star Party
Staunton River State Park

Near Scottsburg, VA
Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF)
Rockland Community College, NY
Astronomy Day
Northern Virginia Astronomy Club (NOVAC)
Crockett Park, Midland, VA
Texas Star Party (TSP)
TSP Facebook page
Astronomical League Southwest Region
Prude Ranch near Fort Davis, TX
Cherry Springs Star Party
Cherry Springs Facebook page
Astronomical Society of Harrisburg
Cherry Springs State Park near Coudersport, PA
Green Bank Star Quest and Conference
GBSQ Facebook page
Central Appalachian Astronomy Club
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Greenbank, WV
Green Bank Observatory Clear Sky Chart
Stellafane Convention
Telescope Makers Annual Convention
Springfield, VT
Astronomical League Convention
RAC Summer Star Party
Rockland Astronomy Club and Sky & Telescope

Peppermint Park Camping Resort (in the Berkshires)
Plainfield, MA
Almost Heaven Star Party
NOVAC Facebook page
18 Woodlands Way
map: Spruce Knob Mountain Center
Circleville, WV
Night Owl Star Party
NOVAC Facebook page
18 Woodlands Way
map: Spruce Knob Mountain Center
Circleville, WV
Blackwater Falls Astronomy Weekend
Kanawha Valley Astronomical Society
Blackwater Falls State Park, WV
York Co Fall Star Parties
Annual York County Star Party
York County, PA Astronomical Society
Susquehannock State Park, 1880 Park Dr
Drumore, PA
Black Forest Star Party
Central Pennsylvania Observers (CPO)
Cherry Springs State Park, PA
Staunton River Star Party
map: Staunton River State Park, VA
NOVAC Star Gaze
Northern Virginia Astronomy
Crockett Park, Midland, VA
Mega Meet
Lehigh Valley Amateur Astronomical Society (LVAAS)
TBD: Pulpit Rock Astronomical Park, PA

Star Party Reports from Previous Years

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Last modified: June 11, 2024 @ 21:31 EST