Daytime Programs: General Admission, Solar Viewings & Guided Tours

Access to the Observatory grounds is ONLY allowed for visitors with passes, and capacity limits are enforced.


Visiting during Spring Break (March 12-19) 2022?  Please see our expanded schedule of programs for Spring Break week only.


Check the calendar for programs and start times.

General Admission:

General Admission allows you to explore the Visitors Center, including the exhibit gallery and gift shop.  Self Guided Tours of our largest telescope, the 10-meter Hobby-Eberly Telescope, are available from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday as part of General Admission. See the "Learn More..." drop-down text below for more information on what parts of the facility are available to the public.  General Admission passes can be purchased in person when you arrive at the Visitors Center.

General Admission provides access to the Visitors Center and self guided tours only. To visit the research areas, make reservations for a Guided Tour. Both the Guided Tour and Evening Programs passes include General Admission.

Solar Viewing:

The Visitors Center operates a set of specially filtered telescopes equipped with cameras that allow us to bring live, safe views of the Sun into our theater. Knowledgeable guides present history of the Sun, its formation, and what we expect the Sun to do over the next 5-6 billion years. Your guide directs the telescope to view the Sun and various surface features. On not so clear days, video and stills are used. This is typically a 45-50 minute program.

Both the Solar Viewing and Evening Programs passes include General Admission.

Guided Tours:

Join a Guided Tour for an up-close look at large research telescopes at McDonald Observatory in West Texas.

A Guided Tour Pass includes access to the exhibit gallery and gift shop inside the Frank N. Bash Visitors Center and a guided tour of our large research telescopes (approximately 90-120-minutes). Check the calendar for program offerings and start times.

Both the Guided Tour and Evening Programs passes include General Admission.

Programs may be cancelled at any time due to weather or public health concerns.


  Adults DISCOUNT: Military
Senior (65+)
Students (5+)
Children under 5

General Admission

Solar Viewing

Guided Tours

Star Party













*Locals receive free daytime General Admission and Guided Tours.  "Locals" are residents of our tri-county area (Jeff Davis, Brewster, and Presidio) with valid proof of residency.


The system defaults to one adult pass. If you're 65 or over and want the senior discount, choose the "Snr (65+)" pass and remove the adult pass. Be sure to click on the "Book" button as your final step in making your reservation.

The Solar Viewing, Guided Tour and Evening Programs passes include General Admission. 

McDonald Observatory is located 450 miles west of Austin and is on Central Time.