Texas Science Festival 2021

Texas Science Festival - Virtual & Free for all 

Feb 16 - Mar 26, 2021

Free and open to science enthusiasts everywhere, the Texas Science Festival is a celebration of discovery and learning. Register online and interact with leading experts, hear about the latest innovations, and enjoy virtual events with the whole family. Don't miss these events from the McDonald Observatory and Department of Astronomy:

February 18 - 4:00 - 4:45 PM CT - Discussion: Cosmic Beginnings 

We stand at an incredible time in human history. Within many of our lifetimes, we may discover answers to two age-old questions: “How did it all start?” and “Are we alone in the galaxy?” Steve Finkelstein and Caroline Morley, two astronomers studying the early universe and exploring planets outside our solar system, offer a peek into what they expect to see as humanity arrives, finally, at the cusp of revealing the nature of our cosmic beginnings and detecting traces of life beyond Earth.

February 18 - 7:00 - 8:00 PM CT - Live Moon Tour

Join us for a tour of the Moon, featuring live views from a telescope at the McDonald Observatory. Your host, Kevin Mace, will highlight lunar surface features, Apollo landing sites, moon phases and more. Moderators in the chat will be available to answer questions. In the event of cloudy skies, we’ll use imagery from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

February 27 - 1:15 - 2:15 PM CT - Great Lecture in Astronomy: Galaxies, Science, and Society: Breakthroughs and New Directions 

How do galaxies, the building blocks of the universe, grow their stars, black holes, and dark matter halos across cosmic time and vastly different environments? What do galaxies tell us about the underlying universe? Dr. Shardha Jogee will outline progress we have made leading to paradigm shifts on these seminal questions, as well as new exploration pathways being opened by current and future facilities, including NASA's Hubble and James Webb space telescopes, McDonald Observatory, and the Giant Magellan Telescope. While science continues to have transformational effects on society, there are important new challenges and the opportunities to foster an informed and inclusive society.

March 5 - 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM CT - Live Solar Viewing 

McDonald Observatory staff will provide live, safe views of the Sun from specially equipped telescopes. Learn about solar features, as well as how, when and where to view the solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. Your host, Joe Wheelock, and moderators will be available to answer questions during the program. In the event of inclement weather, previously taken images will be shown.

March 6 - 10:00-11:00 PM CT - Live Deep Sky Tour 

Join us for a tour of galaxies, nebulae, star clusters and more with live telescope views from McDonald Observatory. We’ll discuss the unique features and scientific observations of each target. Your host, Stephen Hummel, and moderators will be available to answer questions during the program. In the event of poor weather, previously taken images will be shown.

March 16 - 12:00-12:45 PM CT - Discussion: Solving the Universe's Big Questions 

The ordinary atoms that make up the known universe—from us and the air we breathe to the planets and stars—constitute only 5% of all matter and energy in the cosmos. The remaining 95% is made up of a recipe of 25% dark matter and 70% dark energy. Learn from two scientists on the cutting edge of discovery about these mysterious, nonluminous components of our cosmic cocktail. You’ll hear from a recent inductee to the National Academy of Sciences and the astrophysicist now leading a team to measure the expansion rate of the universe from 10 billion years ago.

March 25 - 2:00-3:00 pm CT - Virtual Hobby-Eberly Telescope Tour 

Explore McDonald Observatory’s 10-meter Hobby-Eberly Telescope nestled in the mountains of Far West Texas. Learn how 91 mirrors collect starlight, why the telescope spins on air, and who we need to keep a research facility operating. Hosts Martinique Pautzke and Saul Rivera will use pictures and videos to engage all ages in this program.