Frank N. Bash Visitors Center

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Dark Skies

The night sky has been lost to light pollution in most areas of the United States, a waste of energy, money, and illumination. Help bring back the night sky where you live.

McDonald Observatory Dark Skies Initiative

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McDonald Observatory

McDonald Observatory is located in the Davis Mountains of West Texas, 450 miles west of its research and administrative home at The University of Texas at Austin, under some of the darkest skies in the continental United States.

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The observatory offers a wide range of state-of-the-art instrumentation for imaging and spectroscopy in the optical and infrared, available to the research community on the 0.8 m Telescope, the 2.1 m Otto Struve Telescope, the 2.7 m Harlan J. Smith Telescope, and the 10 m Hobby-Eberly Telescope. Also hosted at the observatory, is a 1 m node of the globally networked Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope (LCOGT), one of two robotically controlled 1.2 m MOnitoring NEtwork of Telescopes (MONET), a 0.51 m telescope dedicated to optical aeronomy, and one of four globallly networked Robotic Optical Transient Search Experiment (ROTSE) telescopes. The observatory also operates one of the first and most productive lunar ranging stations.

McDonald Observatory welcomes the public at the Frank N. Bash Visitors Center. Approximately 60,000 visitors per year attend star parties and exhibits, and continuing education programs for teachers. Weather permitting, guided star parties are held weekly in the Rebecca Gale Telescope Park, which now features, among a wide variety of 8-24 in telescopes, the Wren-Marcario Accessible Telescope (WMAT) with wheelchair access, available to all guests.

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Research Facilities

Telescope and instrumentation information for facilities available to McDonald Observatory researchers.

Research Facilities


Our Mission

southwestern consortium of observatories for public education