A field trip to McDonald Observatory is inspiring, educational, and fun! Accompanied by an expert guide, students learn about huge telescopes, science and engineering, and the amazing universe.
General Program - 80 Students Max
Our General Program includes three basic elements:
- Explore McDonald Observatory and see the 2.7m (107-inch) Harlan Smith Telescope
- Decode Starlight in the Exhibit Hall
- Investigate Our Star, the Sun
Enriched Program - 30 Students Max
An optional Enriched Program adds a fourth element, a Guided, Hands-On Group Activity in our Multimedia Classroom, to the list above. See a menu of classroom activities.
Both our General and Enriched Student Field Experiences:
- Engage students in inquiry and hands-on activities
- Reinforce and complement learning standards and tests (TEKS, NSES)
- Encourage teacher involvement
A Daytime Visit
McDonald Observatory is in West Texas. Your visit begins at our Visitors Center. Later, you will drive up to the mountain summit in the vehicle (typically a bus) that brought you to the observatory.
We will provide a custom itinerary when you register to visit. Use our pre-visit and post-visit activities to engage students before and after your trip.
Stay for the Evening!
Consider joining a public Twilight Program and/or Star Party (offered Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays).
The Fine Print
Capacity – 80 students max for General Program, 30 students Max for Enriched Program. We can present two programs in a day, starting at different times.
Adult Teachers & Chaperones – One adult must accompany every ten students. One adult receives free Student Field Experience admission for every five students. Adults pay admission to optional evening programs.
Transportation – You are responsible for your group’s transportation to, from, and while at McDonald Observatory.
Fees – See the blue box to the right. Scholarships covering fees are available for schools in Jeff Davis, Presidio, and Brewster counties, as well as schools in the Permian Basin region. We gratefully acknowledge the Permian Basin Area Foundation and the Trull Foundation for making these scholarships available.
Student Behavior – Please review our expectations.
Request a Reservation!
Please plan your visit at least six weeks in advance. Click the box to begin.
Request a Student Field Experience