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“Lots of astronomy” 5 of 5 stars
Review of McDonald Observatory

McDonald Observatory
3640 Dark Sky Drive, Fort Davis, TX 79734-1337
+1 432-426-3640
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Ranked #1 of 6 Attractions in Fort Davis
Type: Observatories/ Planetariums, Landmarks
Activities: Dining, Shopping
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Attraction details
Owner description: University of Texas' observatory on Mount Locke.
McAllen, Texas
Top Contributor
79 reviews 79 reviews
24 attraction reviews
Reviews in 52 cities Reviews in 52 cities
36 helpful votes 36 helpful votes
“Lots of astronomy”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2013

Even if you are remotely interested in Astronomy you will enjoy the twilight program and especially the star parties. They point out constellations in the sky with a bright pointer and set up about a dozen telescopes for you to look at different stars. Dress warmly. It gets cold up there in the Davis mountains. My 5 and 7 year old enjoyed it.

Visited March 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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445 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
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English first
11 reviews 11 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Awesome shooting stars”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2013

We did the Star Program and is way awesome. It is a night show that started at 8:45 and we learned about constellations then got to look through tons of telescopes at different features in the sky. There were tons of people (Spring Break) so if you get a chance to go at another time, I think it would be better. It was cold so a jacket and blanket were needed. With the amount of people there, 4 hours for the constellations and the telescopes.

Visited March 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
15 reviews 15 reviews
7 attraction reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Spring Break day one”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 17, 2013

W went to all four events, facility tour, solar presentation, twilight party, star party. each presenter was SO WELL prepared. My PhD husband and my 10 year old both got things out of the talks. the crowd at the Star Cafe was a bit of a disaster -- understaffed for the occasion. it might have been smarted to cut through some red tape and contracted with someone to bring up their smoker and offer barbecue to take the pressure off of the lines. In general, though, they're not there to feed people. Can't say enough good things about the astronomers themselves. They even emailed those of us who had reservations to notify us of the problem regarding food distribution a few days ahead of time. Great hospitality. We were quoting expressions of the lecturers for the rest of our week-long trip. "remember to go down the mountain, not off the mountain..." The guy doing the Solar presentation was so excited we was almost literally jumping up and down about the solar storms. it was infectious!

Visited March 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
The Woodlands
Top Contributor
130 reviews 130 reviews
64 attraction reviews
Reviews in 62 cities Reviews in 62 cities
97 helpful votes 97 helpful votes
“Stars galore”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 17, 2013

We were during Spring Break and thankfully had made reservations way in advance. All the tours were completely sold out when we arrived. The Twilight tour was pretty interesting. The talk in the theater explained what we would be seeing at the stargazing party. The constellation demonstration afterwards was cute but geared more for kids. The stargazing party was spectacular. Due to large crowds there were extra volunteers and staff on hand to provide extra telescopes. The constellation tour was fabulous. The laser light clearly pointed out all the constellations visible and the speaker was a wealth of information. The highlight was seeing the details of Jupiter and its moons, and Orion Nebula. It was very cold and we wished we would have had extra blankets to wrap up in. Well worth the drive out here! If you come during the day, this is on the scenic loop around Fort Davis and just the drive is beautiful!

Visited March 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Antonio, Texas
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Amazing-Star Party @McDonald Observatory”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 15, 2013

Took a family Spring Break trip on March 11th. Happened to be the darkest night of the month & completely clear...we couldn't have asked for a better night for viewing. Our group included a 9,11,26,27,41 & 48 yr old...and each of us enjoyed this immensely. Very knowledgable staff. The Constellation discussion at the beginning of the star party was well done, informative, entertaining, keeping younger visitors engaged. Afterwards the Jupiter viewing at the larger telescopes followed by several smaller telescopes w/staff available to answer questions. We were told this was one of the largest number of reservations for a Monday night during Spring Break, and there were many people but with ample seating, and several telescopes we did not feel crowded. (if you go to amusement parks during vacations...these lines were nothing at all, no complaints...stood in line for Jupiter telescope for 20 mins, hot choc for 5mins, etc) Even the cafe & gift shop were easy to get in & out of with very friendly staff on hand. This is a serious drive from almost anywhere in Texas, but well worth it. Yes, it's a dark drive back to wherever your accommodations are, but since we live in the country, we are used to dark roads. We were not able to stay any closer than Alpine, approx 40+minutes away. I am so glad we made this trip & would recommend it to family w/older children (toddler/stroller ages may be more difficult to keep engaged). It was very cold in the evening but we were prepared & dressed in layers, hats, gloves, scarves, blankets (constellation program is outdoors on stone seating...blankets to sit/wrap make a difference!) Hot chocolate to close out the night (after a cold night of star viewing...$2.08 for drinks & $5.75 for soup is easily justified) -- make reservations...wouldn't want to make this drive & find it sold out if going during a busy time)

Visited March 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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