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McDonald Observatory, Fort Davis

4.6
One of the country's major astronomical research institutions, McDonald Observatory has four impressive telescopes. The largest--the 9.2 m (30 ft) Hobby-Eberly telescope--ranks amongst the largest in the world. Stop by the observatory visitor center to see the staff in action and learn more about their projects and programs, as well as the science of space. Join a guided tour for inside access, or even watch live telescopic images of the sun during a solar viewing session. Be sure to book ahead online, however, as tickets can sell out very quickly. Set at an elevation of 2,070 m (6,790 ft) in the mountains of West Texas, the observatory is part of the University of Texas at Austin, and works closely with its science departments. Plan my trip to Fort Davis with suggested itineraries provided by Inspirock.
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McDonald Observatory Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
1,035 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • Wow! Have you ever looked up to see an incredible sky full of so many stars they light up the sky? This place should be on your bucket list. I definitely recommend the Twilight Program along with the ...  more »
  • We highly recommend the 30 minute drive up to McDonald Observatory. There is a free self-guided tour and inter-active video. The views are fantastic and the drive-up is beautiful. Restrooms are availa...  more »
  • One of my favorite activities in this area is the Star Party at the UT McDonald Observatory. It never gets old. Make sure you get your reservations ahead of time, as this party sells out quickly.  more »
Google
  • Star Party is worth attending! Great show, but could have been more structured in narrative. Telescope viewing lines went quick. Star Cafe is bottomless coffee. Interior of visitor center is clean and orderly. Got shop was great.
  • Astronomers world. Educational and fun for anyone! Friendly staff. Had a blast looking through many different size telescopes pointing at different stars. Highly recommend making your reservations for the star party online before making the drive. That attraction sells out quickly.
  • A delightful surprise out in the middle of nowhere. The museum has a lot of interesting and interactive features, and the solar viewing presentation is a lot fun. The entire facility is very clean and up-to-date, and the attendants were all very polite and helpful. We didn't eat at the cafĂ©, but I did grab a cup of coffee, which was surprisingly good.
  • It's beautiful. Rain or clouds are not their fault. Book your reservations in advance, be there at least a few minutes early. I was sick and had to leave early, the format of the star party is perfect for sickly people like me, or folks with fussy kids. During the constellation presentation, it's totally fine if you need to step away and come back, or just go to the different telescopes before lines form. I wish the red lighting around the constellation presentation area dimmed even more when the presentation started, but I'm sure for safety purposes they have to be at that level. Next time I'm anywhere within a 2 hour drive I'll be back.
  • We went to the start gazing party and had a great time. The staff starts off with the constellations, then goes into celestial bodies like planets, notable stars, and galaxies. Once that initial presentation is complete, you walk around to the many telescopes they have set up to get a close up view of select celestial bodies. We would go back if we were in the area.

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