Viewing Night on the Harlan J. Smith 107-inch Telescope

9 to 12 times each year, near or around the full moon, the 107-inch Harlan J. Smith Telescope is opened for public viewing. In addition to views through the telescope, the professional astronomer using the telescope speaks about her/his research project and answers questions. A demonstration of spectroscopy (one of the many techniques used by research astronomers to learn about the universe) is given by the Visitors Center staff to offer the program participants a glimpse into how research is conducted at McDonald Observatory. Viewing Night on the 107" is typically an approximately 3 hour program from start to conclusion. The program typically begins with the spectroscopy demonstration, then the astronomer's talk and viewing follow.  The demos and talks may take place either in the Visitors Center theater or on the telescope dome floor.

This program is not suitable for children under 10. Our Special Viewing Night programs are designed for adults and more mature children. We ask that you do not plan to bring along children under 10 for any of these more exclusive programs. Participants with young children who are not appropriate for the program may be asked to leave.

The 107-inch Special Viewing Night is wheelchair accessible with the deployment of a ramp. If you or someone in your party needs to use this ramp, please let know prior to the program. Without the ramp, stepping up (and down) one step is required to access the eyepiece.

Before you sign up, be sure to check out our remote location.

Scheduled dates for this program vary from month to month, and due to limited seating on the observing floor, early reservations are encouraged. The fee is $80 per person. Dinner is NOT included with this program. Please make your own meal arrangements. (Fee subject to change w/o notice.)

Waiting lists are available via our reservation system (see below). However, cancellations are rare for our Special Viewing Nights so you may be better off planning for a different date than waiting for a cancellation on an already sold out program. The programs you see scheduled below (through February 2019) are the only dates we will be scheduling for the December 2018 - March 2019 period. Adding a waiting list request for other dates will not result in a program being added for those dates. With the exception of the dates you see scheduled below, the 107-inch Telescope is already scheduled for research activity through March of 2019. New dates for the April - July 2019 period will be posted by early/mid July 2019.


The 2.7-meter (107-inch) Harlan J. Smith Telescope at the University of Texas Mc

Harlan J. Smith Telescope, Dome