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1970s Memories of McDonald

Shared by McDonald staff member Rhoda Silverberg on October 21, 2013

Eric and I arrived on the mountain from the east coast in December of 1969 where he would take charge of the laser project, his first job. McDonald was a wonderful place to live! We could see for miles out the living room window of House E where we lived until 1975 when the new houses were finished. It was a great place to raise children, and we made lifelong friends.

Snowed in: November 1969

Shared by McDonald staff member Mary L Dutchover on October 13, 2013

We had just moved back from Maryland where our daughter Kimberlee was born while Ed was serving in the army from Nov. 1967 until Oct. 1968. We had moved in when his folks into a tiny bedroom not big enough for the three of us. We managed with the hope that would find something soon. He was looking for a job, and as you know, there were just not any jobs available at the time. He had applied at every possible place. Finally, in March of 1969, Ed was hired as a night assistant at the observatory.

Nova computers

Shared by McDonald staff member Clint Janes on October 4, 2013

The Nova computer was a "16-bit minicomputer" introduced to McDonald Observatory around 1970 by Dr. Ed Nather for instrumentation control. In fact, Ed bought Nova SN 1 with drawings signed by Edson de Castro himself, the founder of the computer manufacturer, Data General Corporation. The machine was small enough to fit on a roll-around cart so that it could be easily used at the 30-inch or 36-inch telescope to control an instrument mounted to the back of the telescope.

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.