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McDonald Observatory, Fort Davis

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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 4.5
1,042 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • We took the afternoon tour conducted by a member of the staff. The facility is amazing and the telescopes are much more impressive than we anticipated. If you are in the area and have the time be sure...  more »
  • Took the grandkids to a Starlight program during the /Christmas holidays. Thoughly enjoyed the experience  more »
  • We attended the Star Party on Friday, Jan. 12th. As the moon had not come up, the sky was clear and dark, but unfortunately, the only planet in view was Uranus and with the 20+” telescopes, there is n...  more »
Google
  • 2 Stars - For it being one of the least light polluted places in the US. How often would you hear that! 1 Star - Staff. Amazing staff, very friendly and full of knowledge. 1 Star - This star is for all the knowledge you'd gain there. Everytime you go there, you're gonna come back smarter. 1 Star - All the science they do to make the world a better place and an educated place. Word of Advice: It's almost always pretty cold out there, don't forget to take a jacket if you're planning to do a Star Party. When going to Star Party, pick a new moon day and possibly summer months. On a good night you can see the Milky Way and you don't wanna miss out on that.
  • Another must visit place in Big Bend area. The facility is great. The staff work hard to make your visit as educational as possible. We attended SVN: special viewing night and experienced the sky watching using 82" telescope they have. For 3 hours we all were taken on a tour which we will not forget. Very enthusiastic and educated staff, including our host who is actually a volunteer, worked for NASA before! Cafe is good, but don't expect a whole lot options. It is usually cold at nights on the mountains, so don't forget to wear or pack warm clothing!
  • Have multiple programs for the public both during the day and at night. We signed up for an hour long informative talk in the auditorium prior to the star watch portion outside. Unfortunately, sky occluded with clouds. Staff were quick to offer alternate learning activities or offer people a chance to reschedule or a refund. A great resource for anyone with an interest in astronomy. Kids really enjoyed the activities. We will reschedule and hopefully be back when its not so cloudly.
  • Very educational experience. The host for our star party was very entertaining, and kept everyone's attention. Being able to use the different telescopes was a delight. My 14 year old daughter loved it. The sky was overcast at first, but the clouds cleared out and there was an awesome star-filled sky to see. Very much worth the trip! Take warm clothes, or even blankets.
  • This is a must do on any West Texas trip. The Star party has become a tradition for us especially when travelling with first timers. The experience is dark as there is very little lighting and it can get cold in the evenings so bundle up. There is always a variety of telescopes to look through, and many times we haven't been able to see all. The facility is top notch and the staff extremely knowledgeable. Make it a point to visit at least once!
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