The observatory’s three largest instruments are the 362″ Hobby-Eberly telescope on 6,600-foot Mount Fowlkes, the 107″ Harlan J. Smith and 82″ Otto Struve telescopes located on 6,800-foot Mt. Locke. The observatory is located just 17 miles from Fort Davis on Texas Highway 118 and under one of the darkest night skies of any major observatory in the continental United States.
Operated by the University of Texas at Austin, the observatory has several large research telescopes and hosts astronomers from around the world. Self-guided tours are possible from 10am to 5:30pm. Solar Viewing sessions are conducted twice daily at 11am and 2pm. (reservations are strongly encouraged) Daily tours follow Solar Viewing.
The observatory has evening Star Parties on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays which are led by knowledgeable staffers. (reservations are required) A star party showcases interesting stars, planets and other astronomical objects including live views through telescopes from 8 to 24 inches in size. The observatory is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Bring a jacket, since the mountain air cools quickly.
A gift shop featuring astronomy related merchandise and the StarDate Cafe are located in the visitor’s center. Accurate information for opening hours and tours can be found at mcdonaldobservatory.org/visitors
Click here for the Astronomy picture of the day!