McDonald Observatory to Close to Visitors

13 March 2020

FORT DAVIS, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory is announcing that its Frank N. Bash Visitors Center will close operations today at 5 p.m. and remain closed through at least April 19. All public programs are cancelled through at least April 19.

Officials from the university have taken this decision to implement the recommendations for social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the agent causing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Spring Break is historically the busiest time of year for visitors at the observatory, with visitors coming from all over Texas and further afield to attend public star parties and tours. Typically the observatory receives hundreds of visitors daily for a two-week period in March.

Visitors who have booked tickets to public programs during the period of closure will receive full refunds. The observatory will contact ticket holders via e-mail with further information.

“I want to thank all of our visitors for their enthusiasm for astronomy and for their patience in these unusual circumstances,” said McDonald Observatory Director Taft Armandroff.

Science operations at the observatory will continue. Videoconferences scheduled with schools for Astronomy Day April 15-17 will go ahead as planned.

The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis, Texas, hosts multiple telescopes undertaking a wide range of astronomical research under the darkest night skies of any professional observatory in the continental United States. McDonald is home to the Hobby-Eberly Telescope, one of the world’s largest optical/infrared telescopes. An internationally known leader in astronomy outreach and education, McDonald Observatory is also pioneering the next generation of astronomical research as a founding partner of the Giant Magellan Telescope.

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Media Contact:
Rebecca Johnson, Communications Mgr.
McDonald Observatory
The University of Texas at Austin

Note to editors: For more information on The University of Texas at Austin’s actions related to this developing situation, see:

In this aerial view, the two large domes in the foreground are the 2.1-meter Str

Aerial View of McDonald Observatory

Visitors enjoying a star party at the Frank N. Bash Visitors Center at McDonald

Star Party

Amphitheater with Milky Way

Amphitheater with Milky Way (horizontal)