Dark Sky Week 2024

May 7-11, 2024

Join McDonald Observatory in celebrating Dark Skies May 7-11, 2024 with special tours, science lectures, film screening, solar viewing, star parties, and more. In addition to our regular programming, the following special activities are offered. 

Residents of Brewster, Culberson, Jeff Davis, Hudspeth, Pecos, Reeves, and Presidio counties may reserve free passes for programs May 7-11, 2024 using the discount code BigBendSky at checkout. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

12:30 p.m. Hobby-Eberly Telescope TourGo behind the scenes at one of the world’s largest telescopes!  This special access tour of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope is co-hosted by a member of the telescope’s engineering staff and visits the telescope’s dome floor.  General admission to the Visitors Center is included.  Duration is approximately 75 minutes.  Transportation from the Visitors Center to the summit of Mt. Locke is provided.

8:15 p.m. Dark Skies Talk - Ryan Cantrell, McDonald Observatory Visitor Center Program Specailist 

9:30 p.m. Star Party

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

4:00 p.m. Dark Skies for Nature Talk - Kaylee French, Nature Conservancy 

9:00 p.m. Astrophotography Lab part I

Thursday, May 9, 2024 

12:30 p.m. Hobby-Eberly Telescope Tour

Go behind the scenes at one of the world’s largest telescopes!  This special access tour of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope is co-hosted by a member of the telescope’s engineering staff and visits the telescope’s dome floor.  General admission to the Visitors Center is included.  Duration is approximately 75 minutes.  Transportation from the Visitors Center to the summit of Mt. Locke is provided.

4:00 p.m. Dark Skies Talk - Rachel Fuechsl, McDonald Observatory Visitor Center Program Manager

9:00 p.m. Astrophotography Lab part II

Friday, May 10, 2024

4:00 p.m. Dark Skies for Studying Astronomy - Catherine Manea, Univeristy of Texas at Austin Astronomy PhD student 

8:15 p.m. Dark Skies for Studying our Galaxy - Keith Hawkins, Univeristy of Texas at Austin Astronomy Professor

9:30 p.m. Star Party

Saturday, May 11, 2024

12:00 p.m. Storytime with Amy Jackson, author of Cassandra and the Night Sky in the exhibit hall. 

12:30 p.m. Otto Struve 82-inch Telescope TourTravel back in time to see the first telescope built at McDonald Observatory! The 82-inch Guided Tour includes admission to the Visitors Center, as well as a guided tour of the 82-inch Otto Struve telescope.  Guests will visit the dome building and observing floor, learning about the history of the Observatory and operation of the 82-inch telescope, then and now. Duration is approximately 75 minutes. The 82-inch Telescope is not wheelchair accessible.  Transportation from the Visitors Center to the summit of Mt. Locke is provided.

4:00 p.m. Dark Skies for the Big Bend - Stephen Hummel, McDonald Observatory Dark Skies Iniaititive Coordinator 

8:15 p.m. film screening: The Stars At Night 

9:30 p.m. Star Party 


The International Dark-Sky Association hosts Dark Sky Week April 2-8, 2024 to raise awareness about light pollution’s many negative effects. Learn more at idsw.darksky.org

Learn more about the Dark Skies Initiative and efforts to preserve the night skies over McDonald Observatory and how you can help.

Special thanks to Apache Corporation for their support and partnership to preserve the night skies over Far West Texas and to create the Preserving Dark Skies exhibit at the McDonald Observatory Frank N. Bash Visitors Center. Visit to learn more about how to protect our night skies and how you can support this important conservation effort.

 

Milky Way Over Mt. Locke

Support Dark Skies

The Dark Skies Initiative helps to fund education efforts and replacements of lights in our community to keep the skies above West Texas full of stars for all to enjoy. 

Support dark skies


McDonald Observatory thanks the Apache Corporation and Big Bend Coffee Roasters for their support of the Dark Skies Initiative.