Tarleton State University’s Program for Astronomy Education and Research will hold its annual fall Star Party, Friday at the Hunewell Ranch observatory. The event is free and open to the public.

Visitors will have the opportunity to gaze at 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 6 p.m.?Larry Barr, manager of the Tarleton planetarium and observatory, said Friday’s forecast calls for partly cloudy skies, “but as long as we have holes in the clouds, we plan to host the Star Party.”

“The exciting thing about this fall’s Star Party is that we’re taking the science camera off of the telescope and replacing it with the eyepiece so everyone can put their eye up to it,” 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 either research or projection.

Stargazing will continue until 10:30 p.m. Visitors are asked to turn off their headlights as they approach the observatory, said Barr. Free coffee and hot cocoa will be provided.

For a map to Hunewell Ranch and more information regarding Tarleton’s observatory, visit http://www.tarleton.edu/observatory .