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Unlocking the Secrets of Solar System Formation

Stella Offner and colleagues have proposed a new method for the formation of aluminum-26 in star systems that are forming planets. Its radioactive decay is thought to provide a heat source for the building blocks of planets, called planetesimals.

The Universe Doesn't Stop for the Pandemic

McDonald Observatory operated the largest optical telescope in the world that stayed online through the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping watch under the skies.

Center for Planetary Habitability Opens

Scientists from across The University of Texas at Austin are joining forces in the hunt for life on other planets. Astronomers, geoscientists, chemists, biologists, and aerospace engineers have pooled resources to form the Center for Planetary Systems Habitability, a cross-campus, interdisciplinary research unit.

Observatory Remains Closed to the Public

On April 28, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the first steps to re-open the state safely and strategically to limit the spread of COVID-19. The University of Texas at Austin announced that it will continue to operate in its current mode. As part of the university, McDonald Observatory remains closed to the public at this time, though scientific research continues. A decision on our re-opening will be announced via social media, news release, and on our website once it is known.

A Message from the Director

This is an extraordinary time for our nation and our planet. Our primary concern is the health and safety of our staff, our astronomy community, and our friends and supporters. McDonald Observatory continues to operate at this difficult time, but at a somewhat reduced capability. Our team members are adapting to the very changed circumstances and are practicing social distancing and other important precautions.