FORT DAVIS — For the past year, McDonald Observatory has celebrated its 75th anniversary via events around the state. Now that those events have concluded, the arrival of a piece of the observatory’s history puts a cap on the anniversary year.
After years of hearing StarDate on NPR, I knew that the McDonald Observatory was a worthy destination on my Hemicentennial (50th Birthday) Celebration roadtrip. I decided to leave Seattle and drive to various astronomy-related sites ending with a visit to the McDonald Observatory (and my son who was living in Marfa). I started in Seattle and drove to The Griffith observatory in L.A., Kitt Peak Observatory in Tucson, the VLA in Soccoro, NM, and finally to the McDonald in Ft. Davis.
Joint news release with the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization
Astronomers from The University of Texas at Austin and Penn State University have solved a mystery surrounding controversial signals coming from a dwarf star considered to be a prime target in the search for extraterrestrial life. The team has proven that the signals suspected to come from two planets orbiting the star at a distance where liquid water could potentially exist (so-called “Goldilocks planets,” whose orbits are just right), actually are coming from the star itself.
Giant Magellan Telescope Organization and McDonald Observatory Partner to Inspire the Next Generation of Astronomers
The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) Organization is partnering with The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory to present a new teacher workshop curriculum that will educate teachers about how the GMT, the world’s largest telescope, will dramatically advance the field of astronomy when it begins operations in 2020.
AUSTIN, Texas — Astronomers from The University of Texas at Austin and Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) recently found a surprise when studying some of the oldest star clusters in our galaxy. The stars at the centers of these clusters are rotating around a common axis. It was previously thought any central rotation would have been long erased, leaving the central stars to random orbits. The work has been accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
AUSTIN — A team of researchers led by University of Texas at Austin astronomer Ivan Ramirez has identified the first “sibling” of the Sun — a star that was almost certainly born from the same cloud of gas and dust as our star. Ramirez’ methods will help other astronomers find other “solar siblings,” work that could lead to an understanding of how and where our Sun formed, and how our solar system became hospitable for life. The work will be published in the June 1 issue of The Astrophysical Journal.
FORT DAVIS — McDonald Observatory announced the winners of its art contest for school kids in Jeff Davis, Presidio, and Brewster counties at its Open House on April 26. The contest, part the observatory’s year-long celebration of its 75th anniversary, received 127 entries in two categories (junior high-high school and elementary school). They were judged on creativity and representation of the spirit of the anniversary celebration.
A new game and online educational resources are offshoots of the open-source software package astronomers use to find planets beyond our solar system
Joint news release with the University of Texas System
The University of Texas System Board of Regents Friday authorized UT Austin to spend $50 million to participate in building the Giant Magellan Telescope project, which will be the world’s largest telescope when it’s completed in 2020. The project will give students, researchers and faculty the opportunity to make groundbreaking discoveries in astronomy.