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4.5
82 votes

McDonald Observatory

3640 Dark Sky Drive, Fort Davis, Texas 79734 USA

$$
$$$$
Reasonable
Closed Now
Opens Thu 10a
  • Independent
  • Credit Cards Accepted
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Public Restrooms
  • Outdoor Seating
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“Gazing into the stars”

McDonald Observatory, a research unit of The University of Texas at Austin, is one of the world's leading centers for astronomical research, teaching, and public education and outreach. Observatory facilities are located atop Mount Locke and Mount Fowlkes in the Davis Mountains of West Texas, which offer some of the darkest night skies in the continental United States. The Observatory's administrative offices are on the UT-Austin campus. The Observatory works with the University's Department of Astronomy on both research and teaching.

With its 9.2-meter (362-inch) mirror, the HET is one of the world's largest optical telescopes. It's optimized for spectroscopy, the decoding of light from stars and galaxies to study their properties. This makes it ideal for searching for planets around other stars, and studying distant galaxies, exploding stars, black holes, and more. The HET, dedicated in 1997, is a joint project of The University of Texas at Austin, The Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, and Georg-August-Universität Göttingen.

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Reviewed by
Nancy Sewell

  • 1,227 Reviews
  • 111 Helpful
August 25, 2016

https://mcdonaldobservatory.org/

Info on events, tours, etc.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
amy.gresham

  • 3 Reviews
  • 3 Helpful
March 12, 2015
Rated 5.0

We did the tour of the telescope, the solar event, twilight event and the star party. Bring blankets for the star party it was cold, but overall a wonderful day/ evening. Reserve ahead online. Very informative!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
jfaignant

  • 5 Reviews
  • 2 Helpful
July 6, 2014

Check the weather carefully before going.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
scotcht

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
January 22, 2014

Be sure to go in the evening. The star-parties are a must!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
jesco005

  • 3 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
September 5, 2016
Rated 5.0

Definitely worth the trip to Fort Davis just for this. The star party was awesome! Very cool, I've never seen the milky way so clearly. They had telescopes set up to see Saturn, a nebula, a few different star clusters, and the moon. What an amazing night. Even in the middle of summer, take a sweatshirt for the evening events, the mountain air cools significantly at night.

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Reviewed by
Jim Thomas

  • Road Warrior
  • 67 Reviews
  • 21 Helpful
March 11, 2015
Rated 5.0

We signed up for a star party on a cloudy night. We knew this but we didn't have time to wait for the weather to come around. It was still really neat. It isn't every day that you get to look through big telescopes.

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McDonald Observatory

3640 Dark Sky Drive
Fort Davis, Texas
79734 USA

Hours

Closed Now
  • Sun - Sat: 10:00 am - 5:30 pm

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  • Independent
  • Credit Cards Accepted
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Public Restrooms
  • Outdoor Seating
  • No Wifi
  • Street Parking
  • Private Parking

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