News and Information
Public invited to Star Party at Tarleton's observatory
Tarleton State University
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 21, 2014
STEPHENVILLE, Texas—Tarleton State University’s Program for Astronomy Education and Research will hold its Spring Star Party, Friday, Feb. 28, at the Hunewell Ranch observatory. The event is free and open to the public.
Visitors will have the opportunity to gaze at the stars and deep space objects, as well as several planets through Tarleton’s 32-inch reflecting research telescope and several smaller telescopes, which will be made available beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Larry D. Barr, manager of the Tarleton planetarium and observatory, said early spring typically offers clear skies, and “as we have done in the past, we’re going to take off the science camera, fit the eyepiece and once again let folks look through the 32-inch telescope. Working observatories rarely remove the CCD cameras, so this is a rare opportunity for folks to look through a scope this big.”
“Spring, with its clear skies and cool weather, provide for beautiful observing,” added Barr. “The spring constellations, such as Virgo with the bright calendar star Spica, are coming on to the summer stage, and we can start to say goodbye for the year to the winter constellations like Orion.”
In the event optimal viewing conditions and clear skies are not available on Feb. 28 an alternate date has been scheduled for Friday, March 7.
Several amateur astronomers will take part in the Star Party by bringing their telescopes for the public to view the heavens at various stations, said Barr. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own telescope, set up on one of two concrete pads, and share the view with others, he added.
Tours of the Tarleton observatory and 32-inch Ritchey-Chretien reflecting telescope will be provided throughout the evening, said Barr, allowing visitors to see how professional astronomy is conducted and how the equipment operates. The telescope was designed and fabricated by Astronomical Consultants & Equipment of Tucson, Ariz., and features a computer controlled, high resolution CCD imaging system to ensure accurate image capture for research.
Stargazers are invited to arrive anytime after 5:30 and remain at the observatory until 11 p.m. Visitors are asked to turn off their headlights as they approach the observatory, said Barr, and added “We’re hoping for a mild evening, but it’s winter in Texas, so bring a jacket just in case.”
Free coffee, tea and hot cocoa will be provided.
For a map to Hunewell Ranch and more information regarding Tarleton’s observatory, please visit http://www.tarleton.edu/observatory.
Tarleton State University
A member of The Texas A&M University System
Contact: Larry Barr, planetarium manager