Jobs & Volunteering


McDonald Observatory has an opening for a journeyman in the maintenance and service of mechanical, hydraulics, electrical and other general labor work, in the beautiful Davis Mountains near Fort Davis, Texas.  To view a complete job description, salary, benefits, and application instructions visit: and refer to job posting number 150302015123. Questions? Feel free to call Alonso Adame at 432-426-3205. The University of Texas at Austin is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.


Summer Internship at the Visitors Center

Astronomy and Physics undergrads ... looking for a unique summer experience? The Frank N. Bash Visitors Center at McDonald Observatory will be offering one summer student position to work at the University's remote campus in the heart of the mountains of West Texas near the town Fort Davis. From June through August, the Visitors Center hosts nearly 20,000 visitors for an extensive array of public and educational outreach programs such as:

  • Guided Tours of some of the largest research telescopes in the world open to the public
  • Solar Viewings, presenting live views of the Sun in our multimedia theater
  • Star Parties, where many visitors get their first views of a truly dark sky
  • Scout Night programs hosting evening activities specially designed for scouts

As a summer student, the successful applicant will not only participate in these programs but also learn how to present them, as well. Presenting these programs is an excellent opportunity to develop public speaking skills in addition to being an opportunity to share your knowledge of astronomy and physics.

In addition to an hourly wage (based on your UT status), full room and board will be provided in the Astronomers Lodge (AL) where both researchers and technicians stay while working at the Observatory. Dinnertime at the AL is an excellent opportunity to make contacts with researchers, graduate students, and professors from UT as well as other universities and observatories around the world. Of course, you'll also enjoy some of the darkest night skies of any major observatory in the US and have access to the Visitors Center telescopes to use on your own time, if you'd like. The position runs from May 26th (or earlier) through August 15th, although the exact dates are somewhat flexible. Applications should be submitted no later than March 31st.

 A successful applicant will have completed, at least, Ast 307 or its equivalent. The successful candidate will have an outgoing personality, a good speaking voice, as well as, preferably, some knowledge of amateur telescopes and equipment. The candidate will also have a valid class “C” driver’s license and provide a current three year driving record.

 To apply, send a resume and/or letter of interest to the Visitors Center's Senior Program Coordinator, Frank Cianciolo, at For questions, etc., use the same address or call 432-426-4152.


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