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McDonald Observatory

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Address: 3640 Dark Sky Drive, Fort Davis, TX 79734-1337
Phone Number: +1 432-426-3640
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Today
10:00 am - 5:30 pm
Closed now
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Hours:
Sun - Sat 10:00 am - 5:30 pm
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Activities: Dining, Shopping
Description: The McDonald Observatory Visitors Center staff appreciate all of the...
The McDonald Observatory Visitors Center staff appreciate all of the positive reviews (and even some of the negative ones, too!) that well-meaning and well-intentioned visitors have left over the years. However, we feel that TripAdvisor does not provide anywhere close to the level of management tools needed to combat the misinformation that routinely is provided by, again, well-intentioned visitors to others visiting its pages. With no way other than the "management response" feature to cull and corral the sometimes wildly misleading information posted on these pages, we feel that using TripAdvisor for anything beyond getting the general feel of the establishment is pointless.
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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 577 reviews
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  • 432
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    Very good
  • 27
    Average
  • 10
    Poor
  • 8
    Terrible
Make the Time! Fabulous & Educational, too!

Cannot over emphasize what a "Must Do" experience this is! We attended the Twilight Program and the Star Party our first night. The next day we bought a Solar Pass - we got to go... read more

5 of 5 starsReviewed August 30, 2015
Donna C
,
Fort Worth, Texas
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577 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Date | Rating
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English first
Fort Worth, Texas
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 attraction reviews
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 30, 2015 NEW

Cannot over emphasize what a "Must Do" experience this is! We attended the Twilight Program and the Star Party our first night. The next day we bought a Solar Pass - we got to go up to two of the main (and largest) observatories. Amazing views! Perseids were not as many as other years, but had a few wonderful examples... More 

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SAT
Level Contributor
34 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 28, 2015 NEW

The star party at Fort Davis is excellent. Definitely worth the drive to Fort Davis. Plan to get there early enough to buy tickets and see the small museum and secure seats. There is a cafe for a light meal. The start party is fairly pricey, our family of 4 children and 2 adults was $80. Tickets can be purchased... More 

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Sugarland Tx
Level Contributor
12 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 27, 2015 NEW

This place is actually UT Austin's astronomy department research facility. They have public programs on Tu Fri and Sat. During the day we went for a solar viewing program. This started with a lecture about the sun and what all you can see followed by images of the sun on the screen. Then went for a really informative tour of... More 

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Austin, Texas
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 26, 2015 NEW

we visited the observatory last friday. We joined the star party. When we arrived, sky was fully covered with clouds. Fortunately, in the middle of the party, sky cleared. Watching nebulae, binary systems, globular cluster on a beautiful night was the best experience I had in a long time. I will recommend to join the party.

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Huffman, Texas
Level Contributor
31 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 25, 2015 NEW

Overcast and rainy when we went. Staff did not give up hope. Star parties started much later than scheduled, I have to commend the staff for sticking it out so everyone could get what they came for. Our kids were getting tired so we took the rain check which is good for a couple of years.

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Dallas, Texas
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 attraction reviews
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 21, 2015

It rained and cloud cover too great for star party, interesting substitute programs. We could have opted for rainchecks. Museum exhibit was in poor condition, too many children playing unsupervised. I plan to return for another star party.

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Level Contributor
20 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 20, 2015

We were in a group of 12 who participated in a viewing of objects in the Universe through the 82-inch telescope. The astronomer hosts were excellent guides. The viewing last about 3 hours ending at midnight. We saw some wonderful objects including nebulas, star clusters, and double stars. The evening began with concerns about the cloud cover but the clouds... More 

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Fort Worth, Texas
Level Contributor
51 reviews
29 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2015

There are beautiful views around the observatory and the drive to it was nice! As with any plans involving Mother Nature, be flexible! It was unfortunately cloudy and stormy on the night of our visit, but the staff at the observatory implemented other educational programming (as they state on their website in case of inclement weather). We enjoyed the small... More 

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Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
245 reviews
44 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 88 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 17, 2015

We planned the last part of a two week trip out west just to be able to make it to a Start Party at the Mcdonald Observatory. We were not disappointed! Wow, we got to look through 12 telescopes and see many different formations, clusters and a few planets. Being on the darkest places in the US, we were able... More 

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Ohio
Level Contributor
35 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 76 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 16, 2015

We visited McDonald Observatory as a halfway stop between Big Bend and Carlsbad NP. The observatory is a partnership between U of Texas, Penn State, & a couple of other European universities. You can choose from 3 main activities: Tour of the grounds, solar viewing, & star party (only on certain evenings). We started with the solar viewing and tour.... More 

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  • Do I have to buy a ticket for my infant?
  • How do I get there using public transportation?
  • Is there a restaurant or café onsite?