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McDonald Observatory, Fort Davis

(4.6/5 based on 900+ reviews on the web)
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. Using our online itinerary creator, Fort Davis attractions like McDonald Observatory can form part of a personalized travel itinerary.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Being able to see the sky through the 17 telescopes setup to reflect the presentation of the sky before was fascinating. Even though there was almost a full moon that added a lot of light the presente...  more »
  • Attended a Star Party with our 10 year old son. Oh my goodness it was amazing. He loved the close up of the moon and I must admit it was spectacular! We saw so much thought their numerous telescopes a...  more »
  • Awesome place to visit. They have a star party at night. Make your reservations ahead of time because it sells out quickly. Make sure to take the driving route around this observation ...it's beautifu...  more »
Google
  • The Observatory is located up in the mountains, so the drive is just stunning. We came in for a Star Party at night so I didn't get a good look at the building, but surrounding layout is nice. They have an outdoor seating area where you sit for the constellation tour they give, pointing out constellations and passing objects like the Hubble telescope and other satellites. They had several large/enormous telescopes set up for us to view the moon, Saturn, and some star clusters - beautiful! The information and narratives they provided added to the experience nicely.
  • This is located in the Davis mountains. It's a nice little drive to get up to the observatory. Once you get there, there's an awesome visitor's center full of great toys, books, souvenirs, etc. There's light restrictions on the town so the view is unlike anything you could imagine. It's absolutely beautiful and you learn so much! Fun and educational all in one shot.
  • The most amazing star experience you can have occurs at their star parties! Astronomers give a "constellation tour" outside in their amphitheater, and then you can visit the dozen or so telescopes set up to view celestial bodies, including a few of their smaller domed telescopes. Sometimes they are set up for stars, sometimes planets- always something amazing. Do not miss this if you are within 2 hours of this area!
  • #1-your GPS cannot find this address; Just head to Ft. Davis and follow the signs. We attended three separate events in one day here - a presentation and tour, the twilight event and a "star party" that didn't begin until 9:30 pm. The twilight event that started at 7:45 pm was informative, but what we really enjoyed was the 2pm tour (awesome to hear about, then see these huge telescopes, including the 3rd largest in the world). The late night "star party" was amazing - perfect conditions for star gazing with the naked eye and with a variety of telescopes. You can't see stars like this if you live in a city. Great experience.
  • Always wanted to visit here! The experience was really neat. If you want to take the tour I would recommend calling ahead for reservations though! Otherwise the self guided tour is OK too!