Star Parties and Twilight Programs


McDonald Observatory remains closed to the public


Evening programs routinely sell-out well in advance throughout the year: Reserve your tickets below.

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

Every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday evening (except where noted), the Visitors Center opens for our popular Twilight and Star Party programs. Click here for these popular programs' start-times.

Twilight Program

The Twilight Program is a theater-based presentation led by education and outreach staff prior to the Star Party. Tickets are required to participate and this program frequently sells out.  Approximate program length: 50-60 minutes. Scheduled 1.5 hours before the Star Party. Participation in the Twilight Program is not required for enjoying the Star Party. 

Star Party

Enjoy night sky constellation tours and views of celestial objects through a number of telescopes in the Rebecca Gale Telescope Park at the Frank N. Bash Visitors Center every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday evening. Star Parties are approximately 2 hours in length. Fun for the entire family. Dress warmly, the program takes place outdoors. 

Depending on the season, as many as 600 people may participate in Star Parties. Tickets are required, and in order to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for visitors and protect our sensitive environment, program capacity is limited and strictly enforced. Star Parties on Holiday weekends often sell out weeks in advance. We strongly encourage purchasing Star Party program passes in advance as passes are rarely available the day of the program.

Star Party start times change with the seasons. Check the calendar for program offerings and start times for the date you plan to visit.

K-12 Teachers: Bring your class to the observatory for an educational and inspiring Student Field Experience.

Looking for a "big telescope", small group experience? Check out our Special Viewing Night programs available on several of our research telescopes!

Buy Tickets


Visitors enjoying a star party at the Frank N. Bash Visitors Center at McDonald

Star Party

Know Before You Go

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.

When to Visit
Special Needs & Concerns
Pet Policy & Service Animals
Visiting with young children
Cell Phone Usage
StarDate Café Hours of Operation
Frequently Asked Questions
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