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HAL Star Parties, Outreach Schedules, and Regional Star Parties


HAL's COVID-19 Policy for Events - Updated May 2023

  • In Howard County, COVID-19 community level is Low. We are following Howard County guidelines:
  • Face coverings are optional inside the Alpha Ridge HALO building. People may choose to mask at any time.
  • If you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms or have tested positive for COVID, please be considerate of others and refrain from attending HAL events.
  • For HAL impromptu and member-only star parties, participants should wait for an invitation before approaching to look through others’ telescopes; respect each other’s desires for social distancing.

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's Star Party Etiquette and Expectations

HAL 2023 Star Party Schedule

Subject to weather conditions.

Star parties start at sunset and end at 11pm.

Revised Version (host changes): 7/15/23

Month Date Invitees Host Host CTO Views/Events/Notes
March 18 Members Neville Fernandes         
March 25 Public Chris Miskiewicz Phil Whitebloom Dale Ghent (CTO)   
April 15 Members Richard Ren       Lyrids meteor shower
April 22 Public Kurt Bauch Chris Miskiewicz Dale Ghent (CTO)   
May 20 Members David Stein         
May 27 Public Joel Goodman Phil Whitebloom Hannah Broder (CTO)   
June 17 Members Jared Case         
June 24 Public Richard Ren Gary Richardson David Stein (CTO)   
July 15 Members Jared Case         
July 22 Public Krystal Rolon Joel Goodman Hannah Broder (CTO)   
August 12 Members Wayne Baggett       Mercury near greatest Eastern elongation; Perseid meteor shower early Aug 13th
August 26 Public Krystal Rolon Michael Krauss Richard Ren (CTO) Saturn opposition - Seelinger effect
September 9 Members Victor Sanchez         
September 23 Public Kurt Bauch Michael Krauss Richard Ren (CTO) CANCELLED: Since our governor declared a State Of Emergency, all Howard County Recreation and Parks programs are cancelled.
October 14 Members Wayne Baggett       Partial solar eclipse from 12:00 PM to 2:39 PM
October 21 Public Ken Everhart David Stein Neville Fernandes (CTO) Io Shadow Transit; Orionids meteor shower
November 04 Members Cheryl Kerr         
November 11 Public Victor Sanchez Cheryl Kerr Ken Everhart (CTO) Leonids meteor shower

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.

Pleave also review HAL's COVID-19 Policy for Events.

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.

Note: Howard County COVID-19 protocols are in effect. Impromptu events are intended to allow members to use their equipment to observe peacefully without the expectation of sharing equipment or views unless invited.

Regional Star Parties & Astro Events

Download PDF: Tentative Regional Star Party Dates and Websites - from MERAL (2/10/2023)

Please follow the links for the most current info.

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: September 05, 2023 @ 20:58 EST