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. 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.

Our Special Viewing Night programs involve interacting with large and sensitive equipment and are not suitable for children. 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. Without the ramp, stepping up (and down) one step is required to access the eyepiece. Contact us before your visit to let us know about your accessibility needs.

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. 

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 late February/early March 2019.


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

Harlan J. Smith Telescope, Dome