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HAL Star Parties and Outreach

HAL's public star parties at Alpha Ridge Park (held from March through November) 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 Alpha Ridge-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.

Past 2019 Event Reports here

2019 HAL Star Party Schedule

Month Date Invitees Host CTO CTA Meade Views/Events/Guests
March 16 Public Cheryl Kerr Mike Krauss Richard Ren
April 6 Members Richard Ren
April 13 Public Chris Miskiewicz Paul Montanaro Chris Combs
May 4 Members Bob Prokop
May 11 Public Bob Prokop David Stein Jessica Dickens Joel Goodman
June 1 Members Chuck Cynamon
June 8 Public James Stack Chas Rimpo Cheryl Kerr Joel Goodman
June 29 Members Bob Provine
July 13 Private HCRP Joel Goodman HCR&P SolarFest
July 20 Public Victor Sanchez Wayne Baggett Fausto Rodriguez Joel Goodman Star-B-Q
August 3 Members Chris Miskiewicz
August 10 Public Cheryl Kerr Ken Everhart Forest Arnold Richard Ren
August 31 Members Chuck Cynamon
September 7 Public Bob Savoy Ken Everhart Forest Arnold Richard Ren Yoga Under the Stars at 7:30PM
September 28 Members Victor Sanchez Open Open Open
October 5 Public TBD David Stein Neville Fernandes No one assigned International Observe the Moon Night
October 26 Members James Stack Open Open Open
November 2 Public Richard Ren Wayne Baggett Jessica Dickens No one assigned Bushy Park Scout Pack 792
November 11 Public David Stein Joel Goodman Chas Rimpo NA Mercury Transit 7:34AM - 1:05PM

2019 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 events. If there is a separate webpage with more information there will be an active link in the Event column, below.Check back frequently, more events are currently being scheduled, especially for solar observation.

All events below are are open to the Public. There is no charge to attend the HAL viewing sessions held outdoors at the Robinson Nature Center. However, if you wish to take advantage of other programs being held inside the Nature Center, there is usually a fee charged by the Nature Center.

There is never a charge for the HoCo Library events. Occasionally the library will have an indoors astronomy related program with limited space availability that is held in parallel with the outside observing. In those cases, advance registration may be required. Please inquire directly with the library for more information.

Click on bold, gold underlined future events for more information and on past events for full reports and/or event photographs.

Event Co-Sponsor Where When Host
Scope Out the Night Sky ($30 / Family) HCR&P Robinson Nature Center 3/15/19
Joel Goodman
Greenfest+HAL Solar Scopes HoCo HCC SET Bldg
& Outside
Bob Savoy
(5-11 yrs : $8/Participant)
HCR&P Alpha Ridge Park


Joel Goodman
RNC 8th Anniversary
(No Charge)
HCR&P Robinson Nature Center 9/22/19
Joel Goodman
Mercury Transit
(No Charge)
HAL Alpha Ridge Park Monday 11/11/19
David Stein

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

If you are not sure if the weather is cooperating, check the top of the home page for the latest news.  If you are on the Howardastro Yahoogroups list also check for notification e-mails there. 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?

Absolutely nothing. 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.

Impromptu Sessions at Alpha Ridge or Carrs Mill
(For HAL Members and their guests only)

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-in to the impromptu notification list which is set up using a Google Group called hal_impromptu. Existing members that are not interested can log into their HAL accounts and Opt-Out. 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.

2019 Regional Star Parties & Astro Events

Regional Star Party Info (Last updated on 10/1/2019)
Clear Sky Clock
(click for full CSC)
Winter Star Party
WSP FacebookPage
Feb 17-23, 2020
Southern Cross Astronomical Society
Camp Wesumkee on Scout Key, Florida
Chaos Spring Star Party
Staunton River State Park

TBD 2020
Near Scottsburg, Virginia
NEAF Facebook Page
April 4-5, 2020
Rockland Astronomy Club and Sky & Telescope
Rockland Community College, Suffern, New York
Texas Star Party
TSP Facebook Page
May 17-24, 2020
Astronomical League Southwest Region
Prude Ranch near Fort Davis, Texas
Stargaze XXV
TBD 2020
Delmarva Stargazers
Trap Pond State Park, Cypress Point, DE
The Cherry Springs Star Party
Cherry Springs Facebook Page
June 18-21, 2020
The Astronomical Society of Harrisburg
Cherry Springs State Park near Coudersport, PA
Green Bank Star Quest
GBSQ Facebook Page
June 17-20, 2020
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Greenbank, WV
York County Star Party
TBD 2020
York County, PA Astronomical Society
Location change: Susquehannock State Park
1880 Park Dr., Drumore, PA
Stellafane Convention
Stellafane Facebook
August 12-16, 2020
Springfield, VT Telescope Makers Annual Convention

RAC Summer Star Party
RAC Facebook
August 14-23, 2020
Rockland Astronomy Club and Sky & Telescope

Peppermint Park Camping Resort (in the Berkshires)
Plainfield, Massachusetts, United States

NOVAC Facebook (Closed Site -You Will Need to Join)
Aug 14-18 2020
Spruce Knob Mountain Center, WV
Black Forest Star Party
BFSP Facebook
TBD 2020
Central Pennsylvania Observers
Cherry Springs State Park,
Potter County, PA
Chaos Fall Star Party
Staunton River State Park
Oct. 21-27, 2019
Near Scottsburg, Virginia

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