Special Viewing Nights

Looking for a different telescope experience from what's offered at our regular Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday evening public Star Parties? We offer more exclusive special viewing programs on our 107", 82", and 36" research telescopes throughout the year.


Please note: the Visitors Center is locted 450 miles from Austin!



Viewing Night on the 107"

The Viewing Night on the 107" is designed to give you insight into the tools and methods of astronomical research. You'll have contact with a professional researcher and will look through the 107" telescope at up to three objects. This program is not suitable for children under ten. Dates for January - May 2015 have been posted ... there will be no 107" programs in March of 2015.

82" Special Viewing Night

The 82" Special Viewing Night is back and it's better than ever! After extensive upgrades to the 82" Telescope such as automated pointing and a brand new focal reducing system, the original McDonald telescope .. the 2.1m Otto Struve .. is, arguably, one of the largest and finest telescopes in the world through which routine viewing is allowed.  Come and experience this unique program yourself! This program is not suitable for children under ten. New dates through February 2015 have been posted ... there will be no 82" SVN programs in March of 2015.

Viewing Night on the 36"

Viewing Night on the 36" is our most casual special viewing program. Not only will you get fabulous views through a large telescope, but you'll also have more opportunity to marvel at our dark skies since we won't be in a large dome that obscures most of the sky. Best of all, since this telescope isn't used as much for research as are the 107" and 82" telescopes, we have more access for a wide variety of special programs. This program is not suitable for children under ten. New dates through February 2015 have been posted ... there will be no 36" SVN programs in March of 2015.

Our public Star Parties, held every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, are great for those with young children and don't require reservations (although reservations are encouraged and will save you a few dollars compared to passes purchased upon arrival).

If you're still having trouble deciding, call us at 432-426-3640 and we'll be happy to assist you!

Special Viewing Night program passes are refundable up to two weeks prior to the program after which rescheduling will be offered ($10 administrative fee). Please email or call us (432-426-3640, then zero at the message) with your cancellation or reschedule request. Missed programs will not be refunded or rescheduled. Special Viewing Night programs are NOT discounted for seniors, UT affiliates, or childgren. Contact us for more information.

Special Viewing Night (SVN) reservations should be made separately from other reservations to ensure you receive the proper information with your emailed confirmation. SVN reservations may be made at the same time as other program reservations but you may end up not receiving the proper follow-up emails. If you must make only one reservation for all of your programs, add the SVN in which you're interested as the first item in your "shopping cart". If the SVN does not appear as the first item in your "cart", you will NOT receive the proper follow-up information.

The Frank N. Bash Visitors Center at McDonald Observatory at dusk.
The Frank N. Bash Visitors Center at McDonald Observatory at dusk.

Know Before You Go

Dress warmly (especially for evening programs) and bring your reservation confirmation with you. The Visitors Center is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. central time (and additional hours on Star Party nights) every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. The phone number is 432-426-3640.

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