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The Howard Astronomical League Observatory. Officially opened last night at Alpha Ridge.

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The long awaited observatory that Joel Goodman has been talking about at every opportunity we see him, finally is done and open. It was a lovely night. Many, many people of all ages came out for the ribbon cutting followed by tours followed by a star party.

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I love going out there for any reason. I also enjoy every event that “HAL” puts on. Like the transit of Venus a few years back, at the Conservancy. Where hundreds (we think 500-600 based just on the cars) came out to watch the last transit for 104 years.

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The sheer volume of people interested in watching the heavens is to me a sign that we in this area really do love science and nature and discovery. Yes, I know, a run on sentence. But, it does feel like we seek opportunities to learn more, and see more.

There were many speeches last night. Lots of people who made this happen. Still, I love to see the children get into it.

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My vantage point didn’t let you see the children doing the ribbon cutting. Not the adults. Not the politicians. The children.

Thanks, Star Doc, for your vision. For your leadership. For helping us out at the Conservancy in setting up our “star parties”, like the upcoming Perseids meteor event on August 12th. For all us night owls.

For those looking for the HAL star parties in the new observatory, the next one is August 22nd. Check out the HAL web page for details.

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Come on in. The viewing is awesome.

The Transit of Venus

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For those into astronomical events that only occur once or twice in your lifetime, Tuesday evening has one of the better ones. Cross your fingers that the weather cooperates, and come to the Howard County Conservancy where HAL is holding a viewing party for the transit of Venus across the sun.

Set up is around 5:30 pm, with the start of the transit at 6:03:38 pm EDT. If the sun is visible, there should be viewing available until almost 8:30 when the sun has set.

If there are no clouds, many club members are bringing nighttime viewing scopes and will hold a star party after the solar viewing ends.

If you miss this viewing, you can catch the next transit in 2117, one hundred and five years from now. Do not try to view the sun directly on your own, as you may damage your eyes.

Come say HI as I am one of the volunteers from the Conservancy assisting in HAL’s visit to the site.