Spring Break Guided Tours, Solar Viewings, & Star Parties

Spring Break 2022 Programs Information

We’re excited that you would like to join us for Spring Break! Programs can sell out very quickly, so we recommend making reservations as soon as your plans are settled to avoid disappointment.  

During Spring Break, we offer an altered schedule of modified programming in order to serve as many visitors as possible. Below is a description of what we have to offer.  

The following is valid for the week of March 12-19, 2022 only.


Daytime Activities

The Visitors Center will operate from 12pm to 5pm Tuesday through Saturday. Daytime programs and activities take place during this timeframe.

General Admission
General Admission provides access to the Frank N. Bash Visitors Center and the summits of Mt. Locke and Mt. Fowlkes during regular daytime Visitors Center hours (12pm-5pm). In the Visitors Center, you can enjoy exhibits about our history and the science of astronomy. On Mt. Locke, you’ll be greeted by some of the most stunning views in Texas, and a small visitors gallery at the 107” Harlan J. Smith Telescope provides information about the telescope and the science done there. On Mt. Fowlkes, you’ll be able to see one of the world’s largest telescopes, the Hobby-Eberly Telescope, from the George T. Abell Gallery.  General Admission is $3 per person.  We strongly encourage you to purchase General Admission passes online.  A limited number of General Admission passes may be available at the door, but purchasing online will guarantee your access on the day of your visit.  Please note that the Solar Viewing, Guided Tour and Star Party include General Admission.

Solar Viewing
Explore live views of the Sun (weather permitting) with our experienced guides. Safe, filtered views are projected onto a screen in our classroom. You will potentially see sunspots, solar prominences and maybe even a solar flare!  This program lasts approximately 30 minutes and costs $5 per person.  General Admission is included.

Guided Tour
Guided Tours visit the dome floor of the 107” Harlan J. Smith Telescope.  Your guide will help you explore the telescope’s operation and science.  The tour lasts 75-90 minutes and costs $10 per person.  Discounts are available for seniors, military, locals, students and small children.  General Admission is included.

PLEASE NOTE:  When planning your daytime activities, be sure to choose programs that do not overlap.  The chart below indicates the times and durations of daytime programs to help you plan your daytime visit.


Evening Activity -- Star Party

Our Star Parties are the best way to enjoy the dark West Texas sky, and they are our most popular programs.  Book early, because these programs sell out very quickly!

Star Parties include a Constellation Tour, which provides an entertaining and educational tour of the night sky as seen with the unaided eye.  We’ll also offer telescope views of several targets, such as star clusters, nebulae,  galaxies and more.  

The Star Party lasts about two hours and costs $25 per person.  Discounts are available for military, seniors, locals, students and young children.  Our Spring Break Star Party schedule is below.

• Saturday, March 12 at 7:30pm

• Every night Tuesday, March 15 through Saturday, March 19 at 8:45pm

Important Notes

  • Although we are celebrating Spring Break, the weather at the Observatory in mid-March can be anything but Spring-like.  Monitor weather forecasts and dress appropriately, typically for cold and/or windy conditions.  
  • Programs may be altered or canceled at any time due to weather or public health concerns.
  • McDonald Observatory is located 450 miles west of Austin and is on Central Time.
  • The Observatory site, including the Visitors Center, is closed to the public on Sundays and Mondays.
  • Food service is not available.
  • There is no cell service or public WiFi at the Visitors Center.

Making Reservations

Please include all members of your party in your reservation so we can get an accurate head count.  Our reservation system defaults to selecting one adult pass.  If you are selecting discounted passes, please check the adult quantity to ensure it is correct.  Select zero adults if you are purchasing all discounted passes.  If you are traveling with a group of 15 or more, please complete a group request form to arrange a group reservation.  See our Group Reservations Page for more information.

Be sure to click on the “Book” button as your final step in making your reservation.  Failure to click the “Book” button will result in no reservations being made.  

Your passes will be under your last name at Check-In, but be sure to bring your confirmation code or a copy of your online receipt in case we need to look up your reservation in our system.  

Contact us for more information or to let us know if you have special needs.


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