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“Great for astronomy fans” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of McDonald Observatory

McDonald Observatory
Ranked #1 of 12 things to do in Fort Davis
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: 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.
Useful Information: Wheelchair access, Food available for purchase, Activities for older children
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Level Contributor
181 reviews
51 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
“Great for astronomy fans”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 17, 2014

This observatory operated by the University of Texas is well worth a trip. They have a number of large telescopes, as well as several smaller ones. There are star parties and educational lectures for visitors. Also tours of some of the telescopes. For anyone interested in astronomy this is a great attraction. Nearby Fort Davis is also worth a trip. It is small and has an old-fashioned small town feel to it, with small hotels, restaurants and shops.

Visited June 2014
Thank jjc34
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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918 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
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English first
Alpine, Texas
Level Contributor
60 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
“Great fun and Educational!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 16, 2014

We took our 10 year old granddaughter to the Observatory for both a Twilight and a Star Party. The Twilight Party was indoors and was very educational. The Star Party was a big hit. They pointed out the visible planets and stars, then showed us how to find many of the constellations. The night sky is amazing...everything is seen so clearly, including the Milky Way. We saw satellites passing overhead, and meteorites. After the main presentations, we wandered through the various small telescopes to view Saturn, Mars, and various stars. One warning, regardless of the time of year, be prepared for cool temperatures.

Visited June 2014
1 Thank Bill S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
21 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Great tour, but disappointed with a cloudy night...”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 15, 2014

But - the day tour was interesting. Be prepared to do a good bit of standing. The staff is knowledgeable, professional, friendly ... a very informative tour. The movie was well done, and the facility on the whole was well presented. You will learn a lot!

Visited June 2014
Thank Bruce H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Antonio
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“The star attraction!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 14, 2014

We did a Star Party, a solar viewing with tour and a Special Viewing Night program.
The Star Party was a solid 4 stars. It started with a very basic astronomy and constellation lesson. then we moved to the viewing area. Numerous telescopes were staged, with each pointing at a different celestial object. An astronomer was posted at the stations to assist the viewers and answer their many questions.
The solar viewing and tour were very enjoyable. The solar viewing I would rate 3 stars, while the tour is better at 4 stars. The sun was viewed live on a large HD screen, while an astronomer pointed out various features and taught about the sun. The guided tour took us by bus around the facility. A self guided tour is available, but you miss out on a lot of information. You also miss out on seeing and learning, up close, how the 107 inch telescope and dome operate.
The highlight of our Observatory trip was the Special Viewing Night program. The 36" telescope SVN was 5 stars. A small group, ours had 14, get 3+ hours of viewing numerous celestial objects. We had the good fortune of having Jupiter, Saturn and Mars up for viewing. It was well worth the price of admission. We're already planning our next trip to view through one of the larger telescopes.

Visited May 2014
1 Thank TXLeeVee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
20 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Get your science on!”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 12, 2014

We enjoyed the tour, and the self-guided walk through the museum. The personnel were very knowledgeable. Seeing saturn through the large telescope was incredible. We saw features on the moon including shadows that were mind-blowing. It is cool up there even in July so bring a jacket! A big highlight was when one of the presenters gave my daugher some information on the astronomy program at UT Austin as she had tried to answer some questions he had posed during his presentation. It is more expensive than I had thought, but science research is not cheap and funding is difficult to obtain so I didn't mind paying.

Visited July 2014
Thank Los_Maestros
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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