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Widening State Highway 118 - Explosively!

Shared by McDonald staff member Tom Montemayor on October 2, 2013

State highway 118 from Ft. Davis to the observatory used to be a very different road than it is today. It was a very narrow 2 lane road with no shoulders and no safety “skid out” zones on the steep turns (like Dead Man’s). There were places where the road had a shear wall on one side, and a steep cliff on the other.

Expanding the Soul

Shared by McDonald staff member Deborah Byrd on September 27, 2013

When you stay in the house too much, without any contact with nature, you know how you develop a sort of sickness of the soul? Peak experiences in nature do the opposite; they're soul expanding. McDonald Observatory gives people a special way to connect with nature, whether those people travel to the site, or not. For me, it started each night with seeing a long way in every direction from the top of Mount Locke. You can see lightning storms far off over the plains, rainbows and all the distant sunsets, and stars, and planets popping into view. For a girl in her 20s, there was never so exhilarating a freedom as being able to walk around after dinner, under the darkening sky, just looking up.

The Astronomy Department Airline: Nonstop Service Between Austin and Marfa

Shared by McDonald staff member Tom Montemayor on September 20, 2013

In the '70s, the Department operated a scheduled air charter service between Austin and Marfa. Strictly speaking, the airplane was "leased" and not "chartered." That word is important to the FAA, because leased aircraft (which operate under FAA Part 91) could do things that chartered aircraft (which operate under FAA part 135) could not (at least legally).

My Growing Up Years at The McDonald Observatory

Shared by McDonald staff member Paige (McGarity) Haddock on September 20, 2013

The McDonald Observatory was my childhood home. My family moved there from San Antonio in 1968 or so, just after the large telescope was built. My father’s office every day was mostly the 82-inch Telescope. My playground was the mountains ...