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.

Stores Clerk I - Frank N. Bash Visitors Center
at McDonald Observatory

Job Description:  Greets visitors and provides routine information about merchandise, programs and McDonald Observatory. Answers phones and directs calls.


  • Operates cash register. Stocks gift shop to proper levels. Cleans gift shop - dusting, vacuuming, upkeep of displays.
  • Assist in checking in labeling and storage of merchandise. Inspects and records shipments, reports damages or shortages. Maintains gift shop storerooms, folding shirts, merchandise levels. Helps maintain list of inventory stored in each storeroom.
  • Fills phone, mail or web orders, pull items, and ring up sale, package for shipping, produce UPS or US Mail label. Ships brochure packages for programs and other shipments as necessary for programs and education.
  • Sells program passes. Gives directions and instructions as initial contact for the Visitor Center. Answers the main phone, disperses calls to appropriate people or takes accurate messages and gives to appropriate person.
  • Operates AV equipment for theater, open and closes exhibits.
  • Participates in a cross-functional team and works cooperatively with other staff members towards completion of projects.

For more information on this position, please see the full job posting here.

Visitor Services Assistant I - Frank N. Bash Visitors Center at McDonald Observatory

Job Description: 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.


  • 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 as needed.

For more information on this position, please see the full job posting here.

Maintenance Worker I - McDonald Observatory

Job Description: To perform fire prevention tasks, grounds-keeping, equipment maintenance, and repair at the McDonald Observatory site near Ft. Davis.


  • Fire prevention measures at the observatory including trimming and removal of trees using the appropriate equipment such as a pruners, shears, handsaw, chainsaw, axe, etc. Performs various types of semi-skilled labor in support of fire prevention and suppression of wild-land fires and structure fires, cuts and removes brush from roadsides, fire roads, and fuel breaks using hand and power tools.

  • Maintains the observatory grounds including around the facilities and on-site housing as needed. This includes trash and litter disposal, mowing grass, operating string trimmers, vacuuming leaf blowers, and other related ground maintenance tasks. Provides preventative maintenance and repair to equipment used in grounds-keeping.

  • Ensures that all tools, equipment and vehicles are maintained in a clean and orderly fashion. Wears applicable personal protective gear as appropriate.

  • Works weekend duty as needed or scheduled to back fill other positions during staff vacations and sick leave to assist in general building cleaning, such as cleaning restrooms, maintaining floors, and other routine custodial duties.

  • Assists with special events including delivering and moving furniture, equipment, and materials. Participates in the set up and break down of tables, chairs, and trash receptacles, and stocks supplies as necessary.

  • Participates in the Emergency Response Team for the Observatory as necessary. Required to take firefighting training, first aid, and CPR.

  • Drives a UT vehicle within the McDonald Observatory facility to respond to calls and provide services to the multiple facilities.  Performs other related functions as assigned.

For more information on this position, please see the full job posting here.

Building Attendant II - McDonald Observatory

Job Description:  To perform general cleaning and housekeeping for a sixteen room lodging facility, a two bedroom suite, a cottage and a residence all of which are used as temporary quarters.


  • Performs general cleaning and housekeeping and includes: sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, washing of bed linens and towels, cleaning of bathrooms, hallways, recreation room, laundry room entrances, and other space as needed.
  • Cleans large kitchen and dining area. Washes dishes, pots, pans, utensils, etc. Assists with restocking food and supplies in the dining room area.
  • Assists with inventory control, which includes tracking housekeeping supplies, linens, towels, and furnishings. Informs supervisor of needed supplies and prepares orders for general supplies on a regular basis.
  • Processes room registration forms in preparation of guest arrivals. Verifies registration documents for guests. Maintains room key assignments for incoming guests. Accepts and processes guest payments when necessary.
  • Assists in the kitchen with food preparations as needed in the absence of the kitchen staff and on special catering events.
  • Performs general building maintenance inside and outside of the lodging facilities. Submits work orders to the physical plant when additional support is needed. Monitors progress of maintenance and reports status of maintenance projects, including delays, to the supervisor.
  • Checking in supplies and/or food items, receipt maintenance, and cash handling.
  • Other related functions as assigned, including backing up other duties in the Astronomer's Lodge.

For more information on this position, 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