Dress warmly (especially for evening programs) and bring your reservation confirmation with you. The Visitors Center is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Central Time (and additional hours on Star Party nights) every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. The phone number is 432-426-3640.
Star Parties and Twilight Programs
Reservations will be required for all programs beginning January 1st, 2016. Reservations are strongly encouraged for programs in 2015.
Every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday evening (except where noted), the Visitors Center opens for our popular Twilight and Star Party programs.
The Twilight Program is an educational program that takes place 1.5 hours before the Star Party. Two versions of the program are currently offered, depending on the time of year and the Moon phase. Depending on conditions and program content, portions of this program may take place outdoors. Please dress appropriately for the weather . Reservations are strongly encouraged, as this program may sell out. Discounted passes are available via our online reservation system (see below) until midnight prior to the program. There is no telescope viewing during the Twilight Program. Approximate length: 50-60 minutes.
The Star Party program (~ 2 hours, depending on weather & crowd size) is fun for the entire family, and is open to everyone. Enjoy night sky constellation tours and views of celestial objects through a number of telescopes (varying in size up to a 24-inch Ritchey–Chrétien telescope) in the Rebecca Gale Telescope Park at the Visitors Center (i.e., NOT at the research telescopes at the top of our peaks) every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday evening (schedule varies during the end-of-the-year holidays and Spring Break). Those with mobility issues, please note the distances involved with participating in the Star Party.
While the Star Party does not "sell out", we strongly encourage reservations so that we may properly plan for the expected number of program participants. Many are surprised by the large number of visitors who join the Star Parties. Discounted Star Party program passes may be purchased via our online system up to 12 hours prior to the program start time. After that time, passes must be purchased upon arrival at the higher "at the door" prices.
Dress warmly; most of the program takes place outdoors. In the event of rain, significant clouds, or high winds/dust/humidity, a series of unique indoor presentations will stimulate your interest and curiosity; refunds due to inclement weather are not available.
During Daylight Saving Time, the Visitors Center is open 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., re-opening an hour before the Star Party begins. The Visitors Center is open from 10 a.m. through the end of the Star Party during Standard Time. Star Party start times change with the seasons. Check the calendar for program offerings and start times for the date you plan to visit. Be considerate with your headlights when leaving the Star Party and exit the parking lot to the west.
Special Notice for those planning to join the Star Party on June 30, 2015: Jupiter & Venus will pass within about 1/3rd of a degree (i.e., less than the width of the Moon) from each other on that evening. To celebrate this close "conjunction", we'll have several telescopes set up to view both planets starting at 9:00p that evening. If you'd like to join us for a view during twilight before the Star Party officially begins, simply check in at the Information Desk for your Star Party pass early. We'll also be viewing both planets after the Star Party officially begins so, even if can't make the early viewing, you'll still catch the "show".
Note that you can calculate the number of reservations we've received for a particular Star Party by selecting a date and subtracting the number of available passes from the starting point of 1000.
The system defaults to one adult pass. If you don't need that pass, click the number field and select zero.
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.
Looking for a "big telescope", small group experience? Check out our Special Viewing Night programs available on several of our research telescopes!