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McDonald Observatory

3640 Dark Sky Drive, Fort Davis, TX 79734-1337
+1 432-426-3640
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Review Highlights
Make sure to visit here

Interesting place to visit and it's free. They have stopped letting people inside the telescopes... read more

Reviewed 2 days ago
Bob H
,
Dallas, Texas
via mobile
A 'must do' in Marfa, Tx

Traveling with two teens this was a perfect evening activity! The drive from Marfa was less than an... read more

Reviewed 3 days ago
Catherine2779
,
Evanston, Illinois
Read all 1,003 reviews
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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
“star party” (559 reviews)
“night sky” (105 reviews)
“solar viewing” (70 reviews)
Closed Now
All hours
Hours Today: 10:00 - 17:30
Suggested Duration: 2-3 hours
LOCATION
3640 Dark Sky Drive, Fort Davis, TX 79734-1337
CONTACT
Website
+1 432-426-3640

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Reviews (1,003)
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1 - 10 of 993 reviews

Reviewed 2 days ago via mobile

Interesting place to visit and it's free. They have stopped letting people inside the telescopes. You can see the 400 meter scope. Make sure and register online for the tours at 11a or 2pm.More

Thank Bob H
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded yesterday

Just to be clear, we do have a free self-guided tour but the other programs do require a paid admission. On the free self-guided tour you can explore the Visitors Center and check out the summits and go inside 2 of the domes. Access to...More

Reviewed 3 days ago

Traveling with two teens this was a perfect evening activity! The drive from Marfa was less than an hour and quiet nice as we got closer to the observatory and wound our way up the mountain at dusk. I'd leave enough time to find parking...More

Thank Catherine2779
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded yesterday

Your advice to future visitors is spot on: making a reservation in advance, bringing a jacket, and doing a little reconnaissance in the daylight will all go a long way helping you enjoy the observatory. Thanks for the recommendations and the kind words!

Reviewed 4 days ago

Spent a good part of the day at the observatory. Did the solar viewing with tour which was interesting. Also did the twilight show and the star party. The twilight show was excellent for children. The star party offered amazing views of Saturn, Jupiter, and...More

Thank Colleen_Lingle
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded yesterday

Often when the sun goes down the skies clear up, so the conditions during the day aren't a great indicator of what we'll see at night. Thanks visiting and sharing such a good recommendation!

Reviewed 6 days ago

The solar tour was a great experience for us. We are regular star party attendees but the solar tour is well worth your daylight time. We highly recommend doing both the lecture and the tour. The lecture consisted of online, powerpoint, and time-lapse video and...More

Thank Ranleigh
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 5 days ago

Thanks for visiting again and leaving such a great review! There is so much to see here it can be a challenge to do it all on one trip. Also that's excellent advice regarding making reservations in advance and bringing binoculars! Our programs are quite...More

Reviewed 6 days ago

Take a nap during the day, load up on caffeine, do whatever it takes to stay awake...but definitely make plans to attend a star watching party.More

Thank PatPerry
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 5 days ago

Thanks for the great review! And for other readers, if you need caffeine be sure to stop by the Star Date Café for coffee or soda. Otherwise, you might come to a Star Party during the winter season, as they start and finish much earlier....More

Reviewed 1 week ago

This is an exciting place to go... be sure to stay for the night star show if the skies aren't cloudy. This area has the most pristine night skies in the continental U.S. so the stars are absolutely stunning. The whole family will learn a...More

Thank fbglove
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 1 week ago

We do indeed have some of the darkest skies in the continental United States, and when the weather conditions are decent the viewing can be spectacular. This is the prime season for Milky Way viewing and we also get to show some fantastic deep sky...More

Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

My family and I drove from Texas to come here. We had a lot of fun. It was a cloudy night so it was bad time for us. My youngest daughter got altitude sickness and threw up. I asked the staff for something to clean...More

1  Thank Tiffney J
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 1 week ago

The Visitors Center is in the Davis Mountains, at about 6500 feet above sea level. Altitude sickness can pose a problem for some folks, particularly the elderly and young children. We’re sorry to hear you child was so afflicted, and we do have procedures in...More

Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

This is a wonderful place to learn about our universe. We went to the star party and the day time tour. Both were very educational. Plan your visit when the moon is in the "new moon" phase to view more stars. We saw Saturn and...More

Thank LyndaBWaxahachie
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 1 week ago

Thank you for visiting and sharing your experience!

Reviewed 3 weeks ago

We took in one of the Star Parties (reservations required) which started at 9:45 pm the night we were there. The outside presentation was truly amazing. The presenter was obviously quite well learned in astronomy as well as comically witty. We were fortunate to have...More

Thank Mick G
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 2 weeks ago

Thanks for the positive feedback, we’re glad to learn you enjoyed the full experience!

Reviewed 3 weeks ago

The view up the mountain was beautiful...and the full moon was photo worthy. It did however, inhibit our view of the stars and constellations. We were able to see many of them however, and even better through the telescopes. The staff there are VERY knowledgeable...More

Thank rtmidland
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 2 weeks ago

Sounds like you had a great time in spite of our only natural satellite! The moon definitely has the effect of washing out fainter deep sky objects, but it's an awesome telescope target. If you visit again check a lunar calendar, new moon and the...More

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Questions & Answers
hellogoodbye_7
18 July 2017|
AnswerShow all 2 answers
Response from Philip P | Reviewed this property |
Generally attending the Star Party the weather is in the 50's due to altitude. Should wear a jacket and long pants.
2
Votes
hellogoodbye_7
18 July 2017|
AnswerShow all 4 answers
Response from McDonald_Obs | Property representative |
Summer nights at the Observatory can be mild-to-cool, so be prepared for anything! A typical evening will start in the 70's and drop down to the low 60's, but we certainly get colder temps too. I'd recommend the 'layered... More
1
Vote
cdunlap2017
19 May 2017|
AnswerShow all 10 answers
Response from TexasPuma | Reviewed this property |
If the weather forecast is clear I recommend the star party. I was last there in December and the star party was cancelled outside, but they offered different programs inside. I have been there in the summer and the star... More
1
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