Spring Break 2023 Information


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 11-18, 2023 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, the science of astronomy, and the importance of creating and preserving dark skies. 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 the big screen in our Theater. You will potentially see sunspots, solar prominences and maybe even a solar flare!  This program lasts approximately 30 minutes, and tickets are $5 for all ages.  General Admission is included.

• March 11, 2023 at: 12:45p, 1:30p, 2:15p, 3p
• March 14-18, 2023 at: 12:45p, 1:30p, 2:15p, 3p, 3:45p, 4:30p

Guided Tour
Guided Tours visit the dome floor of the 107” Harlan J. Smith Telescope.  Your guide will help you explore the telescope’s history, operation, and science.  The tour lasts about 75 minutes, and tickets are $5-$10 depending upon age group.  General Admission is included.

• March 11, 2023 at: 12:30p, 1:15p, 2p, 2:45p
• March 14-18, 2023 at: 12:30p, 1:15p, 2p, 2:45p


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.

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 the Moon, planets, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies, weather permitting.  The Star Party lasts about two hours, and tickets are $5-$25 depending upon age group.

• March 11, 2023 at 7:30pm (Central Standard Time)
• March 14-18, 2023 at 8:45pm (Central Daylight Time)

Important Notes

  • Although we will be "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.