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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
Impressive facilities

We went for the facility tour. It was a cloudy day unfortunately, so we did not get to see the sun... read more

Reviewed 1 week ago
Robert S
,
Lawrence, Kansas
Very Interesting

Drove up to the observatory through some great scenery. Enjoyed the drive very much. We were not... read more

Reviewed 1 week ago
saltedradish
,
Cedarville, Michigan
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)
Closed Now
Hours
Hours Today: 10:00 - 17:30
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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"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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11 - 20 of 1,068 reviews

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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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

Drove up to the observatory through some great scenery. Enjoyed the drive very much. We were not able to stay for the program but walked though the displays and shopped in the gift shop.

Thank saltedradish
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

Even if you don't participate in the regularly scheduled programs, there is a lot you can explore on your own. Thank you for visiting the McDonald Observatory!

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Reviewed 2 weeks ago

Wow, what a place! If you want to learn about astronomy, this is the place! I highly recommend the Daytime, Twilight and Star Party programs. You need a reservation for the last 2. All are well worth the modest cost. During the Star Party, at...More

Thank Chuck H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 2 weeks ago

We checked the website frequently on cancelations the day there was a Star Party. Fortunately there was 1 cancelation that we immediately booked online($12,- pp). When we arrived the friendly staff also frequently checked for us on cancelations and that resulted in having a second...More

Thank CMSMJ2009
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 weeks ago

Sounds like you got doubly lucky being able to get tickets at the last minute! I'd recommend to prospective visitors that they not wait or take a chance like that... The only way to guarantee attendance to any of our programs is to secure tickets...More

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Reviewed 2 weeks ago

I would never have known about public access to the McDonald Observatory had I not gone online to do massive research about what to do in West Texas while planning a trip to Big Bend. It does not seem to be well advertised for travelers...More

Thank Susan05821
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 weeks ago

Thank you so much for your thoughtful review! We're always looking for ways to improve our programs and you've made a number of great suggestions, I'll be passing these along to the management. We get tens of thousands of visitors every year, and they come...More

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Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Stopped in here as a part of our Spring Break and we were not disappointed. We took the day tour and saw the Harlan J. Smith telescope and observatory. The whole tour was very informative. If you want to go at night you might need...More

Thank Five_Aces_Tx
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 weeks ago

If you're interested in looking through telescopes, check out the Star Party or come for a Special Viewing Night. The Star Party is the main public viewing event held every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday night. We set up a bunch of 'scopes behind the Visitors...More

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Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Been before and we really enjoy this place. Unfortunately it was overcast the whole time we were there this time, so didn't get to do the star gazing tour. While the actual observatory and the guided tours are first rate, a lot of the visitor's...More

Thank Packratdc3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 March 2018

We took the guided observatory tour and got to see the 107" telescope up close and personal. The guide let some of the tourists move the massive telescope and dome! Very informative guide who filled us in on history, technical aspects, day (or night) in...More

Thank Robb C
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 4 weeks ago

Thank you for enjoying the daytime activities and leaving such a great review!

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Reviewed 18 March 2018 via mobile

Our second visit in 8 years! My kids are older now and loved it even more. Definitely a must do when in this area and enjoy the star party on a clear night- amazing.

Thank 70redbird
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 4 weeks ago

Thanks for checking out the McDonald Observatory, maybe we'll see you again someday!

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Reviewed 18 March 2018

Although we missed a star party and live viewing due to weather conditions, the staff did an excellent job of providing alternative activities. I learned more about the sun and space during one presentation in their comfortable auditorium than I learned in an entire semester...More

Thank Texasjack
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 4 weeks ago

We're happy to hear you enjoyed the cloudy night program. While the indoor stuff is hardly a good substitute for visual observations through a telescope, we try to make it entertaining and engaging. Thanks for visiting and leaving a 5 star review in spite of...More

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Ask a question
Questions & Answers
John R
9 April 2018|
AnswerShow all 8 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
7 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