Visit the Observatory
The Frank N. Bash Visitors Center at the McDonald Observatory aims to inform, educate, and inspire the public. Our programs include daily tours of the large research telescopes, Star Parties under some of the darkest night skies in the continental United States, and Special Viewing Nights on some of the largest telescopes in the world routinely available for public observational programs.
The Visitors Center is your starting point for all public programs. Inside, exhibits explain what astronomers do at the observatory. The Visitors Center also includes a theater, gift shop, and cafe.
The Visitors Center is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. everyday except Thanksgiving, Christmas, & New Year's Days. On Star Party nights (Tuesdays, Fridays, & Saturdays), the StarDate Cafe stays open from 10 a.m. to roughly 15 minutes prior to the end of the Star Party program. The remainder of the Center closes at 5:30 p.m. and re-opens approximately 30 minutes prior to the Twilight Program. The Gift Shop opens an hour prior to the Star Party. Star Parties are roughly 2 hours long programs.
All programs are subject to capacity limits. To ensure program participation, make advance reservations online.
The Gift Shop and the StarDate Cafe will be closed on August 22nd, 2019. Cold/pre-prepared sandwiches, cold drinks, and various snacks will be available for purchase via the Information Desk. Regular programs will occur and the rest of the Center will be open.
Important: McDonald Observatory, part of the University of Texas at Austin, is located 450 miles west of Austin and is on Central Time. As a University of Texas campus, the Observatory grounds are "concealed carry" only.