McDonald Observatory

Location: near Fort Davis, Texas
Date: October 18 & 19, 2013

Hobby-Eberly Telescope, the largest at the observatory

The McDonald Observatory is located in the Davis Mountains near Fort Davis in western Texas. The observatory is run by the University of Texas at Austin, and its visitor center and museum are open daily. They also offer a solar program during some days, during which you sit in an auditorium and listen to someone talk about the sun and then view live images of the sun.

Harlan J. Smith Telescope

Otto Struve Telescope

During the day the observatory also has longer tours of its main telescopes, and you are able to go right up to these telescopes on you own, but other than a small room in the largest telescope, you can't go inside on your own. On some nights there is what they call a star party where you go outside behind the visitor center while a guide tells you about current stars, constellations, and other objects currently in the sky. This is followed by viewing of several objects through numerous telescopes.

View the main telescopes

When I visited for the star party on the 18th there was a full moon, which made viewing the Milky Way and some objects difficult. However, we were still able to look through the telescopes and see the moon, several star clusters, a nebula, and other objects.
Inside the Hobby-Eberly Telescope, which was being worked on at the time

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