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Author Topic: McDonald Observatory, all the Reason You Need to Visit West Texas  (Read 418 times)

TwoTiredTeachers

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    • Two Tired Teachers
Located in the Davis Mountains near Fort Davis, the McDonald Observatory sits high on the top of a mountain. It is part of the University of Texas at Austin, a mere 450 miles away.

For miles around, the observatory is the only thing you see. It is in a most desolate spot.It is well worth the time to go to this secluded place because you will be treated to a fascinating, awe inspiring time.

If you can't spend a full day at the observatory, schedule your time for the Star Party held on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday nights. It starts in an amphitheater down a dark path. Visitors are asked not to use cell phones or tablets because our eyes need time to adjust to the darkness. Please be courteous to the other visitors and refrain from using technology.

After a brief lecture explaining what you will see, and the coolest laser pointer ever -- it is used to point out areas of the night sky, you will be released to view the sky through some of those magnificent telescopes.

Through the telescopes, we saw Mars, the rings of Saturn, Jupiter; and with the naked eye, we could easily see the Milky Way. Staff are at each of the telescopes to explain what you are seeing and to make sure you can see it. They are most patient, refocusing the lens until you see what you are supposed to see.

It was definitely worth our time, and we took advantage of all of the programs that were offered. If you can do only one, the Star Party is the one we most strongly recommend.

Prices and more information can be found at https://mcdonaldobservatory.org/visit/programs/star-parties Reservations, even weeks or months in advance, are suggested. When we were there both the twilight program and the Star Party were sold out for Friday and Saturday.

Due to the total solar eclipse during August of 2017, some programs will be limited to allow the staff to travel to prime viewing spots for the eclipse.
TwoTiredTeachers

rvannie23

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Re: McDonald Observatory, all the Reason You Need to Visit West Texas
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2017, 02:49:37 PM »
Awesome thanks for this review. I recently saw this listed on a list of neat places in Texas and wondered about it. Sounds like you had an awesome experience!
2014 Laredo 274rb TT
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FL - MS - TX

BruceinFL

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Re: McDonald Observatory, all the Reason You Need to Visit West Texas
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2017, 05:02:18 PM »
Are there any campsites nearby? Do they allow boondocking while there?
Bruce A.
2004 Alpenlite Valhalla 29RK 5W
2005 Ford F-350 SRW 6.0L

BigLarry

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Re: McDonald Observatory, all the Reason You Need to Visit West Texas
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2017, 08:04:14 PM »
Davis Mountains State Park is not far away.  Also the Prude Ranch has an RV park.  Also several in the town of Fort Davis.  The Fort Davis National Historic Site is an old partially restored Fort from the Indian Wars and is certainly worth a visit.  Its elevation is almost 5000 ft. and not nearly as warm in the summer as the lower elevations, making it a descent destination in the summer.
Larry and Betty
Bryan, Texas
2017 GMC Sierra 2500HD 4x4 Diesel
2016 Cougar 28RLS

TwoTiredTeachers

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Re: McDonald Observatory, all the Reason You Need to Visit West Texas
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2017, 07:26:12 PM »
We stayed at the Prude Ranch.  It could be a truly awesome place to stay, but the owners haven't really kept it up.  Not far from there is the Davis Mountains State Park, as Larry mentioned.  If we had it to do over, I think we might stay there.  If you don't already have one, a Texas State Park Pass might come in handy.  The entrance fee for Davis Mountains is $6 per person per day.
TwoTiredTeachers

BinaryBob

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Re: McDonald Observatory, all the Reason You Need to Visit West Texas
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2017, 07:38:06 PM »
High atop a mountain indeed.
The observatory is fascinating and well worth the trip.
My son and I visited on bicycles. The grade up the mountain was extreme with numerous switchbacks.
Here he is, proud of our ascent.....
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camperAL

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Re: McDonald Observatory, all the Reason You Need to Visit West Texas
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2017, 09:25:52 PM »
Hi,

McDonald Observatory is a nice place to visit and the Pude Ranch is where the Texas Star Party is held each year with above average views of the sky. Plus you can see further south (southern hemisphere) at that location and some stars that you can't see in the northern states.

Fort Davis itself is of interest.

Bob I am in awe that you can peddle those terrains, no easy feat. It would have been miller time after a day like that!
CamperAL (Indiana)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

 

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