My family lived in Odessa, TX at the time of my first visit. All I wanted to do was see the stars. As a child it was amazing to see this telescope that could go to the stars. I have a picture of myself in front of the observatory in 1956, and Christmas of 2009 I took a picture of my grandson standing in the area that I stood. My grandson loved the visit and wishes to go back and hope to do so next summer, 2015.
1st visit 1955 at age 10
Shared by visitor Perry Cozzen on May 5, 2014
In 1955 my mother inherited her father's car and she brought me and her mother to McDonald Observatory from Lamesa, a long trip at the time.
We were in a '49 or so Dodge, and it vapor locked on the way to observatory. My mother made me and my grandmother get out while she backed the non-running car back down the hill.
My grandmother just stood on the side of the road with her hands over her eyes screaming the whole time, knowing my mother was about to die, but she managed to back down the very narrow road and got the car restarted at the bottom.
High School Junior
Shared by visitor Martin Burkhead on April 4, 2014
My Dad, a traveling salesman, and I visited McDonald in the summer of 1950. I was a high school junior from Lamesa, Texas. We met Paul Jose and how I"ll never know, I was invited to spend a week or so at the Observatory. I lived in the dome. I got to observe at the prime focus, develop plates, and do just about everything! Paul and his wife kept me fed and happy. It was a truly wonderful experience. I went to Texas A&M and finished with a degree in Physics. Then I received an MS in Physics fron UCLA and finally a PhD in Astronomy from Wisconsin.
Toddler to Technician
Shared by McDonald staff member Edmundo Balderrama on January 9, 2014
My experience with the McDonald Observatory began at an early age. In fact, when I was just a toddler in the 1950s. I vaguely remember visiting the observatory with family members and being simultaneously awed and terrified by the drive up. The 82" Otto Struve was the only one of the larger telescopes in existence at the time. We would make a day event of it, driving up from Marfa early and spending most of the day in the beautiful setting atop the Davis Mountains. A picnic with barbacoa cooked on a large pit at one of the road side parks leading up to Mt. Locke was always the way we completed our experience. Once at the observatory, the adults would split off from the brood of youngsters, leaving one of the adults to tend to us while they all went up to the 82" for a look see. I don't know what sort of tours they had at the time, if any, but I believe the telescope was accessible to visitors then. We kids were left to our own entertainment, supervised by a parent, and we made the most of it. It must have been like herding cats for whomever was left in charge because I can remember at least half a dozen to a dozen cousins at any one visit.