Jobs & Volunteering

Employment Opportunities


StarDate Cafe hourly shift-work

The Café is seeking part-time hourly staff to help with our busy summer season. To inquire, call 432-426-3644.

Frank N. Bash Visitors Center - Visitor Services Assistant I



Serve as the visitor services representative to support the education and public outreach mission of the McDonald Observatory by coordinating reservations, admissions, and visitor activities at the Frank N. Bash Visitors Center. This position is located at McDonald Observatory, 16 miles from Fort Davis, Texas (440 miles away from UT Austin campus). The Frank Bash Visitors Center is open seven days a week and requires a variable work schedule to meet business needs.


  • Greets and assists visitors, members, and groups upon arrival to the Observatory. Assists with responding to reservation questions via phone and email. Provides customer service and educational information to visitors.

  • Coordinates group sales and visits. Sell or collect admission tickets, passes, or memberships. Provide program and event information to visitors. Help solve customer concerns. Prepare operational reports or records. Assist in the receipt, disbursement, and accountability of funds and answering questions concerning policies and procedures. Prepare cashier booth for opening by securing cash from supervisor. Receives cash and checks, closes cashier booth and accounts for and turns in all monies and tickets received during a shift.

  • Assists with community activities and events on and offsite. Participates in a cross-functional team and works cooperatively with other staff members towards completion of projects. Assists with maintaining exhibits in the Visitors Center.

  • Assists with the StarDate Cafe and Gift Shop when needed. Assists with maintaining other telescope dome galleries. Performs janitorial duties when necessary.

  • Other duties as assigned.

For more information on this position, including qualifications, working conditions, and required materials, please see the full job posting here.


McDonald Observatory - 2.7m Harlan J. Smith Telescope - Remote Telescope Observer Coordinator



Operates the 2.7m Harlan J. Smith Telescope facility in a safe and efficient manner for the assigned observer located in Austin, Texas or other locations away from McDonald Observatory. The majority of the work will be from sunset to sunrise in front of a computer console but will include administrative duties that support the remote observing program. 


  • Conduct remote observing operations at McDonald Observatory, sunset to sunrise, in collaboration with the astronomical observer. Operate telescope facility including, but not limited to: setup, maintain setup on science targets, and point the telescope to the next object; perform adjustments and calibrations to the telescope and associated instrumentation; prevent and recover from problems; monitor weather and facility conditions for safety and protection; coordinate with astronomical observer to efficiently complete observation goals; and shut down the telescope and related subsystems. Ensure the night log is completed and fully captures any operational matters of concern each night. 

  • Serves as the organizational liaison with the part-time remote observing assistants.  Supervise, recruit, train, and schedule part-time remote observing assistants for duty.  ​​

  • Advise the superintendent as to the limiting performance factors of the telescope for remote observing. Partner with the Superintendent on changes to the operating environment to improve the telescope performance accordingly, including assigned projects to improve the fit, finish, and operation of the telescope and related facilities. ​​​

  • Maintain and update the remote observing handbook to ensure that all remote observing procedures are properly documented.  The handbook is used to define and standardize the tasks necessary to perform the job of a remote observing assistant. ​​

  • Support daytime operations, and other duties:  Attend required staff meetings. Support Observatory events; includes interaction with guests. 

For more information on this position, including qualifications, working conditions, and required materials, please see the full job posting here.

McDonald Observatory Physical Plant is recruiting summer hourly employees

Grounds and light maintenance duties.
Schedule: Monday – Friday
For more information contact Lisa Gandy @ 432-426-4148.
An Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteers provide beneficial support to the Observatory and frequently bring their own telescopes to Star Parties to share striking views of the night sky with our visitors.

On-site Amateur Astronomer Volunteers at the Frank N. Bash Visitors Center
Are you an experienced amateur astronomer looking for an opportunity to share your knowledge and experience with the public? Do you have an RV or travel trailer and the freedom to spend several weeks (or more) at a remote dark-sky site.

McDonald Observatory is looking for experienced astronomy fans to serve as site-volunteers to support public programs. The Visitors Center see approximately 75,000 visitors each year. Volunteers assist with day and night programs including guided tours, star parties, special viewing nights, and scout nights. Access to one the Observatory's RV sites may be granted to approved volunteers able to commit to at least 20 hours/week of service. Background check required. Greatest needs are typically through the month of March and late May through August.

For more information, please contact Frank Cianciolo, Visitors Center manager (, 432-426-4152).

Additional Volunteer Opportunities

The Frank N. Bash Visitor Center at McDonald Observatory offers volunteer opportunities to individuals interested in astronomy and/or education. The greatest need for volunteers has been during our public star parties at busy times of the year. We have several telescopes that we use for our public programs including a 16" Meade LX200, 22" Classical Cassegrain, 22" Dobsonian and several Celestron and Meade 8" Schmidt Cassegrains. Training is provided. If you would like more information please contact the Volunteer Coordinator, Shannon Rudine, at 432-426-3640.

See also: Outreach volunteer opportunities in Austin


Visitors enjoying a star party at the Frank N. Bash Visitors Center at McDonald

Star Party