It was recently announced that a team of astronomers led by Ivan Ramirez of The University of Texas at Austin has confirmed the existence of a “sibling star” to the sun. What that means is that they were both born out of the same exploding supernova a few billion years ago.

In astronomer-speak, the star is called HD 162826, and according to an article published by the university, HD 162826 is “a star 15 percent more massive than the sun, located 110 light-years away in the constellation Hercules. The star is not visible to the unaided eye but easily can be seen with low-power binoculars, not far from the bright star Vega.”

But UT isn’t the only university in our state that has a bunch of folks doing some stargazing. Tarleton State University’s Program for Astronomy Education and Research includes opportunities for students to gain real-time experience in the university’s observatory at Hunewell Ranch, just outside Stephenville. The observatory is overseen by Dr. Shaukat Goderya, head of the department and is the third largest observatory in Texas.

According to information provided by the university, “TSU's Program for Astronomy Education and Research provides students with the opportunity to undertake significant astronomical research using our 32" telescope and, through our outreach programs, shares the wonders of the universe in our planetarium and via shows that we produce.”

TSU’s planetarium is a local treasure, especially for kids. It’s located on the main campus in Stephenville under the copper dome in the southeast corner of Tarleton's Science Building. The 40' planetarium is host to approximately 15,000 visitors each year.

The vast majority of guests are students from pre-k to 6th grade and come from over 200 miles away in some cases. Their programs combine video, sound, photographic transparencies and stellar images from the Digistar II digital starfield projector to bring the Awe-inspiring spectacle of space to visitors.

The choice in range of shows at the planetarium is impressive. Here are just a few: Larry Cat in Space, The Cowboy Astronomer, MarsQuest and Search for Life in the Universe. There are plenty more and a complete list can be found at www.tinyurl.com/TSUplanetarium.

The price of admission is $2 per person, with a group minimum of $40. TSU asks that those who wish to make arrangements for other educational programs in addition to the planetarium during their visit call at least 30 days in advance.