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HAL Star Parties & Outreach Schedules, Regional Star Parties and Past Year Archives

Scheduled Star Parties and Outreach 2013 Events
Impromptu Observing Sessions 2014 Events  
Regional Star Parties and Astro Events 2015 Events  
2012 Events 2016 Events  

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.

(Click link on bold, gold, underlined past dates for Event Reports)

2017 HAL Star Party Schedule

Month Date Invitees Host CTO CTA or 2nd CTO Views / Events / Guests
March 4 Public Chris Miskiewicz Mike Krauss Ken Everhart Tiger Den of Elkridge
Cub Scout Pack 360
March 25 Members Bob Provine Mike Krauss Chas Rimpo Clouded Out
April 8 Public Chris Miskiewicz Jim Johnson Paul Montanaro Jupiter Opposition
April 22 Members Eddie Crawford Open for Practice Open for Practice Clouded Out
May 6 Public Bob Savoy Wayne Baggett Paul Montanaro Solar Walk Dedication
Eta Aquarid Meteors
May 20 Members Bob Provine Wayne Baggett Training Session Clouded Out
June 3 Public David Stein Mike Krauss Paul Montanaro Dual Jupiter Transit
June 24 Members Bob Provine NA NA HALO Closed
July 22 Members David Stein NA NA Clouded Out
July 29 Public Ed Crawford Jim Johnson Ken Everhart Celestial Searchers Star-B-Q 7PM
August 19 Members Garry Ingle Avail. for Practice Avail. for Practice Clouded Out
August 26 Public Garry Ingle Joel Goodman Chas Rimpo Clear Skies but Poor Seeing
September 16 Members David Stein Avail. for Practice Avail. for Practice Finally a clear night for Members
September 30 Public Ed Crawford Mike Krauss Ken Everhart  
October 21 Members Garry Ingle Avail. for Practice Avail. for Practice Orionids
October 28 Public Bob Savoy Wayne Baggett Chas Rimpo A Maryland Stem Festival Event &
International Observe the Moon Night
November 11 Members James Stack Avail. for Practice Avail. for Practice  
November 18 Public Chris Miskiewicz Mike Krauss Ken Everhart Leonids
December 2 Public Chas Rimpo Jim Johnson David Stein SuperMoon

2017 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
Family Nature Sphere Night RNC Robinson Nature Center, Green Roof


Joel Goodman
Yuri's Night RNC Robinson Nature Center, Green Roof


Joel Goodman
Greenfest - Solar Observing HCC The Quad by Burrell Galleria at Howard Community College
Bob Savoy
RNC 6th Anniversary RNC Solar Observing at Robinson Nature Center - Green Roof Area
Noon - 5PM
Joel Goodman

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.

2017-2018 Regional Star Parties & Astro Events

Regional Star Party Info (Last updated on 9/30/2017)
Clear Sky Clock
(click for full CSC)

Winter Star Party 2018
WSP FacebookPage
February 12-18, 2018
Southern Cross Astronomical Society
Scout Key, Florida

Chaos Spring Star Party
Staunton River State Park

March 14-18, 2018
Near Scottsburg, Virginia

NEAF 2018
NEAF Facebook Page
April 21-22, 2018
Rockland Astronomy Club and Sky & Telescope
Rockland Community College, Suffern, New York


Star Gaze XXV
TBD 2018
Delmarva Star Gazers
Trap Pond State Park
33587 Baldcypress
Laurel, DE

Texas Star Party 40 (2018)
TSP Facebook Page
May 6-13, 2018
Astronomical League Southwest Region
Prude Ranch near Fort Davis, Texas

York County Star Party
TBD 2018
York County, PA Astronomical Society
Shreveport North Airport
380 Kralltown Road
Wellsville, PA

The Cherry Springs Star Party
Cherry Springs Facebook Page
June 14-17, 2018
The Astronomical Society of Harrisburg
Cherry Springs State Park near Coudersport, PA

Green Bank Star Quest XIV
GBSQ Facebook Page
July 11-14, 2018
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Greenbank, WV

Stellafane Convention
August 9-12, 2018
Springfield, VT Telescope Makers Annual Convention
NOVAC Facebook
September 7-11, 2018
Spruce Knob Mountan Center, WV
Black Forest Star Party
September 7-9, 2018
Central Pennsylvania Observers
Cherry Springs State Park,
Potter County, PA
Chaos Fall Star Party
Staunton River State Park
Oct. 16-22, 2017
Near Scottsburg, Virginia

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