We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

McDonald Observatory

3640 Dark Sky Drive, Fort Davis, TX 79734-1337
+1 432-426-3640
Website
Save
Review Highlights
Something different

The star show was very interesting. Plenty of telescopes for individual viewing. The surrounding... read more

Reviewed 5 days ago
Janis W
Star gazing

The McDonald Observatory is well worth your time to visit. We took the self guided tour since time... read more

Reviewed 1 week ago
A TripAdvisor Member
via mobile
Read all 1,017 reviews
Map
Satellite
Map updates are paused. Zoom in to see updated info.
Reset zoom
Updating Map...
Overview
More
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
“night sky” (109 reviews)
“solar viewing” (72 reviews)
“star parties” (81 reviews)
Closed Now
All hours
Hours Today: 10:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Suggested Duration: 2-3 hours
LOCATION
3640 Dark Sky Drive, Fort Davis, TX 79734-1337
CONTACT
Website
+1 432-426-3640

Similar Things to Do in Fort Davis

Write a Review
Reviews (1,017)
Traveller rating
Traveller type
Time of year
Language

1 - 10 of 1,007 reviews

Reviewed 5 days ago

The star show was very interesting. Plenty of telescopes for individual viewing. The surrounding scenery was awesome.

Thank Janis W
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 4 days ago

Thanks for taking the time to review your experience at the McDonald Observatory Visitors Center. Take care!

A TripAdvisor Member
181
Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

The McDonald Observatory is well worth your time to visit. We took the self guided tour since time was tight & in hindsight I think the guided tour would probably be more informative. Wouldn’t you know the night we chose to attend the star gazing...More

Thank A TripAdvisor Member
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 4 days ago

Guests that go on the Guided Tour certainly get more access than those that choose the Self Guided version, as you get to go up to the Harlan J. Smith dome floor to see the 107" Telescope. On the Self Guided Tour, the dome lobby...More

Reviewed 1 week ago

Was there Oct 7. Twilight Program was all inside a theater was a very good reminder about stars and planets with great presentation slides! The Star Party was all outside so bring your jacket! Got to see Saturn and lots of clusters (M13 and M37...More

Thank Linda A
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 4 days ago

Indeed the Star Party is a 'must do' at the McDonald Observatory. This is our main public viewing event, and a great opportunity to enjoy some of the darkest skies in the North American continent. The telescope viewing is the highlight of the experience for...More

Reviewed 2 weeks ago

Love going to the star parties at the observatory. Still need to make it to the day time tour though. The staff are very knowledgeable and helpful. The telescopes are huge and focused. :) And the stars.. the stars.... oh and of course the hot...More

Thank maniunchik
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 4 days ago

The Visitors Center staff are quite passionate and love getting positive feedback like this, thanks for visiting! Come back and see us again soon, we'll have more hot cocoa ready for you!

Reviewed 4 weeks ago via mobile

Let me start by saying that you definitely need to make reservations online. Don't just show up. They sell out! We enjoyed the whole evening. The constellation talk was very informative. The highlight for us was seeing Saturn and it's rings. I would caution parents...More

Thank DandTLee
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 4 days ago

Your suggestion to make reservations online in advance can't be reiterated enough, the programs are all quite popular and frequently sell out weeks or even months ahead of time. It would be a shame to drive hundreds of miles to our remote facility only to...More

Reviewed 4 weeks ago

We came on a Friday night for the Twilight program and the Star Party. We don't see so many stars in the East due to light pollution, so we were anxious to see an unobstructed view of the night sky. The twilight program was an...More

Thank tridcod
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 4 days ago

It's always a bummer when the clouds roll in, they are certainly the bane of all observers amateur and professional alike. Alas, the sky conditions are beyond our control... We do get about 250 clear nights a year, so the odds are pretty good for...More

Reviewed 16 September 2017

We drove 7 hours for a night viewing at the 107" telescope. Our program guide, Judy, was perfect for the job. She is charming and engaging, and started the evening off very well. Dr. Cochran was the guest astronomer. He brought a very complicated science...More

1  Thank RSTexas5554
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 4 days ago

It sounds like you had a wonderful experience with the 107" Special Viewing Night; this program is one of the most intimate windows into the science performed at the observatory. It's too bad about the evolving sky conditions that night, but we're glad you had...More

Reviewed 16 September 2017

We attended three guided tours; The Star Party, Modeling The Night Sky and Solar Viewing. Each had a different objective. I would say The Star Party was humbling, brought into focus by a very knowledgeable guide. Modeling The Night Sky was very interactive led by...More

1  Thank Harlan H
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 4 weeks ago

Sounds like you got to experience the full range of programs, seeing the contactless cleaning in progress is a special treat too! Thanks for sharing you positive review!

Reviewed 14 September 2017

We attended the Star Party and Modeling the Night Sky! Both were excellent. This is a wonderful opportunity to view the beauty of the heavens. Staff presenting the talks were very knowledgeable and excellent speakers.

Thank judybhutch
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 4 weeks ago

Our program staff members are always happy to get such great compliments, thanks for the 5 star review!

Reviewed 7 September 2017

The staff at the observatory are fully prepared to amaze no matter the weather. We attended a classroom lecture on exoplanets, which was interrupted with the announcement that there was a cloud break. We filed outside to access several high-powered tracking telescopes (smaller than those...More

Thank ExploreFun4
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 12 September 2017

Thanks for sticking around for the experience in spite of the cloudy conditions! We always try to stay flexible and adapt to the sky as it changes, telescope viewing is our #1 priority for the Star Party.

Nearby
Nearby Restaurants
Stone Village Market
302 reviews
16.06 km away
Fort Davis Drug Store & Hotel
719 reviews
16.06 km away
Blue Mountain Bistro
327 reviews
16.09 km away
Stellina
46 reviews
41.01 km away
Nearby Attractions
Balmorhea State Park
278 reviews
37.16 km away
Balmorhea Rock Shop
7 reviews
43.69 km away
The Marfa Mystery Lights
387 reviews
47.07 km away
Ask a question
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 5 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
Vote