painter hall dome

Public Viewing Austin

RLM 16-in Telescope

Painter Hall 9-in Telescope


Skywatcher's Report


None scheduled

Full Colloquium Schedule

McDonald Observatory
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Giant Magellan Telescope

The extremely stable components of the 1,200 ton Giant Magellan Telescope are designed to virtually eliminate vibration during operation. The full structure will float on a thin bearing of oil, never touching the ground. Each 17 ton mirror will float on a cushion of air, never touching the telescope. The secondary mirror, 15 stories above, will float by magnetism, oscillating and reshaping in real time as adaptive optics cancels atmospheric distortion.

Watch an informal overview of the Giant Magellan Telescope by Director Pat McCarthy from Sep 2013 at SlidesLive.

instrumentation development

McDonald Observatory Astronomers Advise National Research Council

McDonald Observatory Press Release

10 October 2014

Eminent Engineeer and Physicist Appointed to Lead Giant Magellan Telescope Project

Giant Magellan Telescope Organization News Release

3 September 2014

São Paulo, Brazil to Join Giant Magellan Telescope Project

McDonald Observatory and Giant Magellan Telescope Organization Joint News Release

24 July 2014

simulation of the epoch of reionization

[Park, Shapiro, Choi, D'Aloisio]

First Billion Years: The Epoch of Reionization

Prof. Paul Shapiro's Cosmology Research Group has performed one of the world's largest and most sophisticated computer simulations of the transformation of the early universe--from a featureless expanding gas, to a place where galaxies formed, stars formed within those galaxies, and radiation from the stars ionized the neutral hydrogen in the vast intergalactic regions.

The visualization is among a collection of images solicited by the College of Natural Sciences to illustrate the beauty of science.

View an excerpt of the simulation, and an explanation by Prof. Shapiro at:
Visualizing Science 2014: Beautiful Images From College Research

75th anniversary logo

McDonald Observatory

Under dark skies in West Texas, McDonald Observatory hosts a wide range of research telescopes and instrumentation for astronomers, including the 9.2 meter Hobby-Eberly Telescope. The observatory also welcomes the public, with exhibits and talks at the Frank N. Bash Visitor's Center, and regular star parties in the Rebecca Gale Telescope Park.

giant magellan telescope

Giant Magellan Telescope

The University of Texas at Austin is a partner in an international consortium of science institutions building the next generation, 24.5 meter, Giant Magellan Telescope at Las Campanas, Chile. Construction is underway at this premier viewing site. Preparation of the Spincasting oven for the fourth primary mirror continues into 2015 at Arizona's Steward Observatory Mirror Lab.

hobby-eberly telescope dark energy experiment

Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment

In August 2013, an upgrade began for the 9.2 meter Hobby-Eberly Telescope. A widened field of view, and 150 integral field spectrographs will give HET the ability to map the expansion of the early universe. Scheduled to begin in 2015, the HETDEX survey will precisely measure more than 800,000 galaxies, to examine their distribution as the universe evolved.

texas cosmology center

Texas Cosmology Center

The Texas Cosmology Center was established to facilitate interdisciplinary efforts in Cosmology between the departments of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin. As a public outreach effort, four videos have been produced featuring Texas cosmologists, on Black Holes, Cosmic Inflation, Dark Energy and Dark Matter.



StarDate is a public education and outreach arm of McDonald Observatory. StarDate radio, featuring science, astronomy, and observing tips, airs daily on nearly 300 stations. Bi-monthly StarDate magazine features sky tips, charts, and astronomy and space exploration news. StarDate also offers resources to teachers, the media, and the public.