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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 2018 Event Reports here

2018 HAL Star Party Schedule

Month Date Invitees Host CTO CTA Meade Views/Events/Guests
March 17 Members James Stack NA NA NA HALO Available for Testing/Practice
March 24 Public Chris Miskiewicz Mike Krauss Jim Johnson Paul Monatanaro  
April 14 Members Chris Miskiewicz NA NA NA HALO Available for Testing/Practice
April 21 Public Eddie Crawford Mike Krauss David Stein Paul Montanaro  
May 12 Members Chuck Cynamon NA NA NA Clouded Out
May 19 Public Bob Provine Ken Everhart Chuck Cynamon Paul Montanaro  
June 9 Members David Stein NA NA NA Another cloud out
June 16 Public Bob Provine Chas Rimpo David Stein TBD  
July 7 Members David Stein NA NA NA HALO Available for Testing/Practice
July 14 Private Joel Goodman NA NA NA HCR&P's Solarfest 2018
July 21 Public Joel Goodman Jim Johnson Chuck Cynamon Joel Goodman Wash Out, StarBQ held on 7/28
August 4 Members Garry Ingle, Jr. NA NA NA Cloud out, No report from host
August 11 Public Wayne Baggett Chas Rimpo Jim Johnson None Small, successful event, transparency/seeing bad
September 8 Members David Stein NA NA NA Clouded Out
September 15 Public Eddie Crawford Mike Krauss David Stein None Successful event w/ Intermittent Clouds
October 6 Members Ken Everhart NA NA NA Ken Subbed for James Stack (Clouded Out)
October 20 Public Bob Savoy Ken Everhart David Stein Joel Goodman International Observe the Moon Night
November3 Members TBD NA NA NA Ed Crawford Cancelled
November 10 Public TBD Ken Everhart Jim Johnson TBD Bob Prokop Cancelled
December 1 Public Bob Savoy Chas Rimpo Jim Johnson TBD  

2019 HAL Star Party Schedule

March 16, 2019 First Public Star Party of the season at Alpha Ridge Park. Full schedule will be posted by January.

2018 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.

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 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.
Event Co-Sponsor Where< When Host
Meteorite Preso HoCo Central Library Central Library 1/4/18
Joel Goodman
Family Friday Howard County Rec & Parks Robinson Nature Center 3/2/18
Joel Goodman
Solar Outreach
Talk then solar observing
Clarksville Commons Clarksville Commons, Clarksville, MD 4/14/18
Joel Goodman
Greenfest HoCo HCC On the Quad by Burrill Galleria 4/21/18
Savoy & Miskiewicz
Solarfest Howard County Rec & Parks Alpha Ridge Park 7/14/17
Joel Goodman
Library Outreach Central Library Snowden Parkway near Columbia Mall 10/15/18
David Stein

2018/2019 Regional Star Parties & Astro Events

Regional Star Party Info (Last updated on 4/26/2018)
Clear Sky Clock
(click for full CSC)
35th Winter Star Party
WSP FacebookPage
Feb 4-10, 2019
Southern Cross Astronomical Society
Camp Wesumkee on Scout Key, Florida
Chaos Spring Star Party
Staunton River State Park

TBD 2019
Near Scottsburg, Virginia
NEAF Facebook Page
April 6-7, 2019
Rockland Astronomy Club and Sky & Telescope
Rockland Community College, Suffern, New York
Texas Star Party
TSP Facebook Page
April 28-May 5, 2019
Astronomical League Southwest Region
Prude Ranch near Fort Davis, Texas
Stargaze XXVI
TBD 2019
Delmarva Stargazers
Trap Pond State Park, Cypress Point, DE
The Cherry Springs Star Party
Cherry Springs Facebook Page
May 30-June 2, 2019
The Astronomical Society of Harrisburg
Cherry Springs State Park near Coudersport, PA
Green Bank Star Quest 16
GBSQ Facebook Page
June 16-29, 2019
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Greenbank, WV
York County Star Party
TBD 2019
York County, PA Astronomical Society
Kralltown, PA
Stellafane Convention
August 1-4, 2019
Springfield, VT Telescope Makers Annual Convention
RAC Summer Star Party
TBD 2019
Rockland Astronomy Club and Sky & Telescope

Peppermint Park Camping Resort (in the Berkshires)
Plainfield, Massachusetts, United States
NOVAC Facebook
TBD 2019
Spruce Knob Mountan Center, WV
Black Forest Star Party
TBD 2019
Central Pennsylvania Observers
Cherry Springs State Park,
Potter County, PA
Chaos Fall Star Party
Staunton River State Park
Oct 8-14, 2018 (Registration Closed)
Near Scottsburg, Virginia

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