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
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
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
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.