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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
Website
Today
10:00 am - 5:30 pm
Open 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: University of Texas' observatory on Mount Locke.The McDonald Observatory...
University of Texas' observatory on Mount Locke.The McDonald Observatory is the astronomical research sub-campus of the University of Texas at Austin. Located in the Davis Mountains of far west Texas, the Observatory enjoys some of the darkest skies of any research observatory in the continental U.S. McDonald is also home to the Frank N. Bash Visitors Center … the headquarters for the Observatory’s Education & Public Outreach programs. Enjoy daily guided tours of the research areas or a safe close-up views of our star, the Sun. The Center also offers evening programs every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday when the public can learn about the night sky and view through telescopes as large as 24” in aperture. Enjoy a bite to eat in the StarDate Cafe or pick up a souvenir T-shirt or other keepsake at the Gift Shop. In addition to these regular programs, the Center also offers occasional Special Viewing Night programs on the large research telescopes.
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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

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Check the weather!

Had been watching the weather forecast for a few days while in the area. Friday was looking the best so we drove up here for a Friday night Star Party. It was clear on the way up... read more

4 of 5 starsReviewed May 22, 2015
kajee
,
Edmonds, Washington
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510 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

Date | Rating
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English first
Edmonds, Washington
Top Contributor
131 reviews 131 reviews
31 attraction reviews
59 helpful votes 59 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 22, 2015 NEW

Had been watching the weather forecast for a few days while in the area. Friday was looking the best so we drove up here for a Friday night Star Party. It was clear on the way up. But lo and behold, it started clouding up and lightening in the distance. Went out to the ampitheater for the beginning of the... More 

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Lakeway, Texas
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
4 attraction reviews
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 21, 2015 NEW

The Star Party started at 9:30, with the most entertaining host, who is very animated and engaging. He pointed out lots of thing in the totally clear sky, which, if you've never been out that far away from lights, is amazing, with all of the stars and planets that you can see. He had a laser pointer, which looked like... More 

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Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 attraction reviews
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 20, 2015 NEW

This was a last minute thing for family and we decided to do the star party. Worth every bit of the wait, it was maybe the second time my kids have actually seen the stars in their lives. Everyone loved it and it was an excellent learning experience for all.

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Edmonton, Canada
Top Contributor
88 reviews 88 reviews
30 attraction reviews
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 19, 2015 NEW

First, you go into an auditorium and enjoy a very good lecture about our sun and galaxies, red dwarfs, white dwarfs, dark matter, and other things. Very interesting and challenging. There are visuals to accompany the lecture and questions taken. Then, everyone goes in a small bus, or you can drive your own car up the hill to go inside... More 

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Coppell, Texas
Top Contributor
127 reviews 127 reviews
26 attraction reviews
78 helpful votes 78 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 15, 2015

Beautiful drive up, very informative session with Shannon at the Twilight Program. Big break between Program & Star Party. Very nice outdoor amphitheater for guests. We saw Venus, Jupiter & Regulus in the Leo Zodiac formation before calling it a night due to cloudy skies and thunder in the distance. They offered rain tickets but we were satisfied with how... More 

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
Houston, Texas
Senior Contributor
47 reviews 47 reviews
22 attraction reviews
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 10, 2015

The observatory is a must-do. I attended a Star Party on a cold, clear night and it was amazing. We were able to see everything the night sky showed and the employees stationed at the telescopes were all very nice; it was easy to see that they love what they do. $12 will get you in for the Star Party.... More 

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Houston, Texas
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 7, 2015

My wife and I attended a Star Party at the McDonald Observatory on April 21. I love astronomy but living in Houston gives little opportunity to see many stars at night. I knew Fort Davis was known for dark skies and wanted to stop on our way to Big Bend. We were not disappointed. The ranger narrating the presentation was... More 

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Greenfield, Massachusetts
Top Contributor
134 reviews 134 reviews
60 attraction reviews
123 helpful votes 123 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 6, 2015

After having listened to Stardate on NPR for the past 20+ years, we were so EXCITED to be actually visiting the McDonald Observatory (part of the University of Texas at Austin). We took in a Star Party (Tues, Fri, and Sat nites usually) 9:30 to midnight. Got a chance to view, the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, and several star clusters through... More 

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Albuquerque, New Mexico
Top Contributor
80 reviews 80 reviews
19 attraction reviews
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 4, 2015

Visited in early morning while driving the scenic loop from Davis Mountains State Park. Everything was closed, but lucky to meet a resident engineer, John Goode as he came out of the 24 foot reflector which was undergoing cleaning operation with dry ice snow being sprayed on the mirror to remove dust. The CO2 ice turns to gas immediately and... More 

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Grand Prairie, Texas
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
14 attraction reviews
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 30, 2015

At least that's what it feels like when you do the Star Party. We started the afternoon with the tour of the observatory. We learned about the sun (very interesting information and Dan was a great presenter). We then began the walk and tour of the observatory. If you have mobility issues, they do provide a shuttle bus or a... More 

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