A Message from the Director

6 April 2020

Dear Friends of McDonald Observatory,

I’d like to share a McDonald Observatory status update with you.

This is an extraordinary time for our nation and our planet. Our primary concern is the health and safety of our staff, our astronomy community, and our friends and supporters.

McDonald Observatory continues to operate at this difficult time, but at a somewhat reduced capability. Our team members are adapting to the very changed circumstances and are practicing social distancing and other important precautions.

Astronomical observing continues on some telescopes, with a significant portion of the day and night staff working remotely and appropriate precautions in place for the limited staff on site. The Hobby-Eberly Telescope, the Harlan J. Smith Telescope, and the 0.8-meter Telescope are all operating (the latter two being used remotely from Austin). This enables astronomical research by our faculty, students, and researchers to continue.

Observing has been suspended on the Otto Struve Telescope and our tenant telescopes (these include MONET and the Las Cumbres Observatory telescopes).

Instrument development continues via a combination of on-site work (with appropriate precautions) and remote work.

Employees working from home are carrying out most of our other functions, including astronomical research, finance, human resources, development, media relations, and StarDate Radio & Magazine production.

The Frank N. Bash Visitors Center remains closed to visitors. Its staff are working remotely with a focus on future planning and distance learning. The Astronomers Lodge is closed to staff and guests.

We look forward to welcoming you to McDonald Observatory in the future, once the public health authorities provide guidance that gatherings are safe.

Sincerely, and with best wishes,

Taft Armandroff
McDonald Observatory Director

Taft Armandroff with Struve Telescope dome

Taft Armandroff with Struve Telescope Dome