Jobs & Volunteering

Employment Opportunities

Assistant Food Service Supervisor - StarDate Café (Frank N. Bash Visitors Center at McDonald Observatory, Fort Davis, TX)

Assists in the supervision of the StarDate Cafe's food services operation at the McDonald Observatory. Prepares and delivers food for employees and customers. Plans meals, manages stock, keeps accurate records, cleans the Cafe, and cashiers. Participates in special events. May work independently during work schedule.  Provides excellent customer service, receives orders, prepares food, and closes out the sales in a timely and efficient manner. Performance is measured by the taste, appearance, portion control, and satisfaction of customers. Prepares food for catering events while ensuring a high quality of standards. Performs routine cleaning of the equipment, kitchen, and dining areas to ensure a clean and safe working environment. Informs supervisor when the stock and supplies are low. Orders goods as instructed by supervisor, receives and stocks merchandise on a regular basis. Follows the University's and the Visitor Center's cash handling procedures to ensure that the cash drawer and cash reports are handled according to policy. Trains part-time employees in the general operation of the cafe, menu preparation, clean-up, and stocking of merchandise. Supervises casual employees, in the absence of the Supervisor. Participate in special events.

More information regarding this position can be found at:

Stores Clerk I - Frank N. Bash Visitors Center at McDonald Observatory, Fort Davis, TX

Greets visitors and provides routine information about merchandise, programs and McDonald Observatory. Answers phones and directs calls. Operates cash register. Stocks gift shop to proper levels. Cleans gift shop - dusting, vacuuming, upkeep of displays. Assist in checking in labeling and storage of merchandise. Inspects and records shipments, reports damages or shortages. Maintains gift shop storerooms, folding shirts, merchandise levels. Helps maintain list of inventory stored in each storeroom. Fills phone, mail or web orders, pull items, and ring up sale, package for shipping, produce UPS or US Mail label. Ships brochure packages for programs and other shipments as necessary for programs and education. Sells program passes. Gives directions and instructions as initial contact for the Visitor Center. Answers the main phone, disperses calls to appropriate people or takes accurate messages and gives to appropriate person. Operates AV equipment for theater, open and closes exhibits. Participates in a cross-functional team and works cooperatively with other staff members towards completion of projects.

More information regarding this position can be found at:

Software Engineer (Hobby-Eberly Telescope, McDonald Observatory, Fort Davis, TX)

To program, install, maintain, and support the computers and network of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) at the McDonald Observatory with emphasis on the authoring and maintenance of software for the control of the telescope sub-systems. These efforts will be part of HET continuing telescope development projects.  Provide user and troubleshooting support for HET operations and staff computer hardware-software as part of the computing operations group. General software maintenance and development of operations and monitoring programs. Authoring software for the telescope sub-systems. Provide technical and troubleshooting support for the Segment Control System (SCS). Linux system administration. Act as HET Operations Engineer as required in the schedule rotation. Attend and participate in the HET staff meeting. Respond as necessary to night time repair and maintenance calls from the telescope operations staff.

More information regarding this position can be found at:

Assistant Food Service Supervisor (Astronomers Lodge, McDonald Observatory, Fort Davis, TX)

Assists in the supervision of the Astronomer's Lodge (AL) food services operation at the McDonald Observatory. Prepares and delivers food for employees and customers. Plans meals, manages stock, keeps accurate records, keeps AL clean, and cashier. Participates in special events. May work independently on weekends.  Prepares and serves meals, beverages, and other items according to the posted menu. Helps to develop new menus, learns new recipes, and implements menus in a professional manner. Cleans kitchen and dining area, washes dishes, pots, pans, appliances, cabinets, and other items as posted. Performs additional heavy cleaning as needed including, but not limited to, such items as vent hoods, ice machine, cabinets, freezers and refrigerators. Assists with ordering food items and supplies as needed. Assures proper stock of guest refrigerator and snack area. Properly thaws frozen foods for meals on the following day, plans in advance according to menu. Verifies product is on-hand to fulfill menu requirements. Provides back-up support for housekeeper on an as needed basis. Assists occasionally with cleaning rooms, entertainment room, laundry and other areas as assigned. Answers telephone and takes complete messages, if calls are in regard to room reservations, accurately prepares registration forms. Assists with room and key assignments for incoming guests. Assures that rooms are ready for incoming guests. Prepares billing documents for guests on an as needed basis. Supervises casual employees in the absence of the Supervisor. Participates in special events.

More information regarding this position can be found at:

Volunteer Opportunities

The Public Observatory benefits greatly from volunteer support provided by area amateur astronomers. These individuals frequently bring their own telescopes to Star Parties in order to share striking views of the night sky with visitors to the Observatory.

On-site Amateur Astronomer Volunteers at the Frank N. Bash Visitors Center
Are you an experienced amateur astronomer looking for an opportunity to share your knowledge and experience with the public? Do you have an RV or travel trailer and the freedom to spend several weeks (or more) at a remote dark-sky site.

The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory is looking for experienced amateur astronomers to serve as site-volunteers to support the Observatory's extensive public programs. The Observatory's Visitors Center plays host to approximately 60,000 visitors each year, many of whom participate in the Center's array of outreach activities. Site-volunteers will assist with both daytime and nighttime activities including guided tours, star parties, special viewing nights, and summer scout night programs as well as other special programs at other times of the year. In exchange for a four week (flexible), ≤ 20 hrs/wk (depending on time of year, up to 12 evening/night hours & up to 8 daytime hours) commitment and upon successful completion of the application process, the site-volunteer will be granted access to one of the Observatory's RV sites (full hook-ups, etc., provided.) Other restrictions apply. Background check required. Greatest needs are typically through the month of March with our Spring Break crowds and late May through August during traditional summer vacation months.

For more information, please contact Frank Cianciolo, Visitors Center manager (frankc @ utexas . edu (remove the spaces), 432-426-4152).

Additional Volunteer Opportunities

The Frank N. Bash Visitor Center at McDonald Observatory offers volunteer opportunities to individuals interested in astronomy and/or education. The greatest need for volunteers has been during our public star parties at busy times of the year. We have several telescopes that we use for our public programs including a 16" Meade LX200, 22" Classical Cassegrain, 22" Dobsonian and several Celestron and Meade 8" Schmidt Cassegrains. Training is provided. If you would like more information please contact the Visitors Center through the Volunteer Coordinator or call us at 432-426-3640 and ask for Shannon Rudine.

See also: Outreach volunteer opportunities in Austin


Visitors enjoying a star party at the Frank N. Bash Visitors Center at McDonald

Star Party