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Observatory Closes to Visitors

Starting at 5 p.m. on March 13, McDonald Observatory is closing to visitors until at least April 19, to slow the spread of coronavirus. All public programs during this period are cancelled, and ticket holders will receive a refund. Science operations continue.

Planet Finder Validates First Habitable-Zone Exoplanet

Astronomers have validated their first exoplanet with the Habitable Zone Planet Finder instrument on the Hobby-Eberly Telescope. About twice the size of Earth and possibly 12 times as massive, the planet could be similar to Neptune, but in miniature. 

Observatory Hires Teznie Pugh as Superintendent

McDonald Observatory has hired Teznie Pugh as its new Superintendent, responsible for managing day-to-day operations at the West Texas site.

Distant Giant Planets form Differently than Failed Stars

A team of astronomers led by Brendan Bowler has probed the formation process of giant exoplanets and brown dwarfs, a class of objects that are more massive than giant planets, but not massive enough to ignite nuclear fusion in their cores to shine like true stars.

Twin Astronomer Probes DNA of Twin Stars

Twin stars appear to share chemical “DNA” that could help scientists map the history of the Milky Way galaxy, according to new research by astronomer Keith Hawkins of The University of Texas at Austin accepted for publication in The Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.