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McDonald Observatory

3640 Dark Sky Dr, Fort Davis, TX 79734-3010
+1 432-426-3640
Website
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Review Highlights
Very Educational

We were staying at Davis Mtn. State Park for the week so had time to experience all of the... read more

Reviewed 3 days ago
Nancy K
,
Reading, Michigan
Interesting but busy Star Party

An enjoyable evening. The constellation talk was a little too quick...it was quite tricky to follow... read more

Reviewed 3 days ago
Pilskie
,
Wales
via mobile
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The McDonald Observatory Visitors Center staff appreciate all of the positive reviews (and even some of the negative ones, too!) that well-meaning and well-intentioned visitors have left over the years. However, we feel that TripAdvisor does not provide anywhere close to the level of management tools needed to combat the misinformation that routinely is provided by, again, well-intentioned visitors to others visiting its pages. With no way other than the "management response" feature to cull and corral the sometimes wildly misleading information posted on these pages, we feel that using TripAdvisor for anything beyond getting the general feel of the establishment is pointless.
  • Excellent77%
  • Very good17%
  • Average4%
  • Poor1%
  • Terrible1%
Travellers talk about
“solar viewing” (76 reviews)
“laser pointer” (39 reviews)
Open Now
Hours
Hours Today: 10:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Suggested Duration: 2-3 hours
LOCATION
3640 Dark Sky Dr, Fort Davis, TX 79734-3010
CONTACT
Website
+1 432-426-3640

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Write a ReviewReviews (1,078)
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"solar viewing"
in 76 reviews
"twilight program"
in 56 reviews
"laser pointer"
in 39 reviews
"large telescopes"
in 34 reviews
"cloud cover"
in 19 reviews
"new moon"
in 21 reviews
"naked eye"
in 16 reviews
"green laser"
in 13 reviews
"clear skies"
in 17 reviews
"clear night"
in 25 reviews
"star clusters"
in 38 reviews
"day tour"
in 27 reviews
"solar system"
in 28 reviews
"outdoor amphitheater"
in 17 reviews
"light pollution"
in 20 reviews
"milky way"
in 41 reviews
"bring a jacket"
in 19 reviews
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1 - 10 of 1,067 reviews

Reviewed 3 days ago

We were staying at Davis Mtn. State Park for the week so had time to experience all of the experiences offered. Enjoyed the tour of the observatories, got to go inside and see the telescopes up close. The guide was very enjoyable and educational. The...More

Thank Nancy K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 2 days ago

Your advice for future guests is all spot on, looking through the telescopes requires a bit of patience and technique. If you have trouble seeing the object, let the telescope operator know and they can give you some tips to help. Also making a reservation...More

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 days ago via mobile

An enjoyable evening. The constellation talk was a little too quick...it was quite tricky to follow the laser pen across the sky at times but it was very informative nevertheless. The queues for the telescopes were long and we didn’t wait to see all of...More

Thank Pilskie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 2 days ago

I'll acknowledge sometimes the lines do get a bit long at the Star Party, but often you'll find many of the smaller, outdoor scopes have no line at all. Some folks tend to get fixated on the bigger scopes that live inside the domes, but...More

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Reviewed 5 days ago via mobile

A spectacular place to learn about the night sky. The staff is enthusiastic and knowledgeable. The twilight and star parties are a must see. ( make reservations well in advance, as they can sell out two months in advance) Educational fun for the entire family.

Thank MDNied
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 2 days ago

Thanks for checking out the Visitors Center and leaving a great 5 star review!

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Reviewed 5 days ago

If you have any interest in astronomy, or are just a curious person, an evening program looking through one of the telescopes is something you'll never forget. Fascinating lecture and views of the night skies. Just go.

Thank MisterTravel1000
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 2 days ago

The Star Party is designed to be enjoyable for all ages and levels of education, real photons from a nearby planet or distant galaxy streaming into your eye can be quite unforgettable. Thank you for coming to see the sky at the McDonald Observatory!

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Reviewed 5 days ago

If you or your family have any interest in viewing the heavens, both daytime and night time, then you want to visit here. The lecture time is very good and informative and is well done. We want to go again. The only drawback is the...More

Thank Larry F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 2 days ago

Weather can be an issue, but the programs will go on rain or shine. Thanks for the 5 star review, and please come back and see us soon!

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Reviewed 6 days ago

We missed the star party, as it was already full, but we enjoyed visiting the facility. This is a don't miss attraction in the Davis Mountains.More

Thank Cowboy1996
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 2 days ago

The McDonald Observatory is absolutely a must see for visitors in the Davis Mountain area, we've got some of the darkest skies and the biggest telescopes in the continental United States. If you're planning on being in the area, you definitely want to make a...More

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Reviewed 1 week ago

It was a dark and cool night. No moon, lots of stars, enjoyable guy to get us oriented, hot chocolate to warm the body, and a plethora of telescopes through which to peek and observe stars, galaxies, and the night sky.

Thank Michaelhuston
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 2 days ago

Hot cocoa and a cool dark night, it doesn't get much better than that. Thanks for participating in the Star Party!

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Reviewed 1 week ago

We took the formal tour of the observatory and were very impressed. The visitor's center has a huge exhibit detailing the history of the observatory which is very interesting. Then the tour begins with a movie about light pollution and what the sun is and...More

Thank 2fridad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 2 days ago

The Guided Tour includes a visit to the mountain tops where you'll see the two biggest telescopes at McDonald Observatory. The Hobby-Eberly Telescope is a modern marvel and currently tied for the 3rd largest single aperture optical telescope in the world. Thank you for enjoying...More

Report response as inappropriate
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Reviewed 1 week ago

The official tour director gave a fantastic tour! He was chock full of interesting facts about the skies AND the telescopes. It was amazing how much information that he gave, BUT the highlight of the tour was not just showing us the scope but repositioning...More

1  Thank Janice N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 week ago

We went for the facility tour. It was a cloudy day unfortunately, so we did not get to see the sun close up. We did visit the 107 in., Harlan J. Smith, telescope which is very impressive, especially when we moved the scope and the...More

Thank Robert S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 1 week ago

We're glad you enjoyed the Observatory in spite of the poor conditions, when you come back to visit again please don't bring the clouds with you!

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Ask a question
Questions & Answers
John R
8 April 2018|
AnswerShow all 7 answers
Response from McDonald_Obs | Property representative |
I'd say it's worth it, but I might be a little biased as an employee at the Visitors Center. The 36" can certainly provide some great views when the sky conditions allow. We try to show the widest possible selection of... More
0
Votes
wakeman2013
13 February 2018|
AnswerShow all 11 answers
Response from McDonald_Obs | Property representative |
There are different fees associated with each of the programs. With regards to the Special Viewing Nights, they are more expensive and available only on a limited schedule. 36" Special Viewing Night- $65 per person 82... More
0
Votes
ninibeaner
6 January 2018|
AnswerShow all 14 answers
Response from McDonald_Obs | Property representative |
The Observatory does have the Astronomer's Lodge, but as the name suggests it is primarily for visiting research astronomers. To qualify for use of the Astronomer's Lodge you must be a scientist utilizing one of the research... More
2
Votes