Visit the Observatory

Aerial view of McDonald Observatory.

The Frank N. Bash Visitors Center is the public outreach center for McDonald Observatory in West Texas. We aim to inform, educate, and inspire through our public programs, and support the teaching of the science and hobby of astronomy.

The Visitors Center is your check-in point for all public programs. Inside, extensive exhibits explain what astronomers do at the observatory. The Visitors Center also includes a theater and gift shop.

The Visitors Center is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Central Time (and additional hours on Star Party nights) everyday except Thanksgiving, Christmas, & New Year's Days. Below, find out more about our public programs, including daily tours of the large research telescopes and our famous thrice-weekly Star Parties under some of the darkest night skies in the continental United States as well as frequent Special Viewing Nights on some of the largest telescopes in the world routinely available for public observational programs. 

All programs are subject to capacity limits. To ensure program participation, make advance reservations online.

Thinking about visiting between August 17 - 23? The Visitors Center will be operating on a limited schedule to allow staff to travel to view the Total Solar Eclipse on August 21st. Further plans for that period are pending. Check back soon.

Please note: the Observatory and Visitors Center are located 450 miles from Austin. As a University of Texas campus, the Observatory grounds are "concealed carry" only.


Programs & Facilities