Reviews for McDonald Observatory

McDonald Observatory, Texas

 Day Observatory tour

Review by M. Zenner on 2/16/20 5:10 PM

Christina was truly outstanding as our guide. Extremely knowledgeable & very interactive with the group. Loved the tour size of approx 14 people. She is a great asset to the McDonald Observatory!! Thank you Christina!!

 Not the Bright Star Review we were hoping...

Review by Frank V on 1/3/20 12:43 PM

Attended the Star watching party on the 27th of Dec - 2019. Our family (6) was totally excited for the experience given we had never done anything like this before. Upon reaching the establishment, we noticed the sign on the door that stated that the event was SOLD OUT... we were OK with that given we had made reservations. At the amphitheater, the host introduced the event and also provided information that an OPTION was available for a refund or a re-schedule given the cloud cover we were getting that night (15 min window was allowed for refunds or reschedules). We were too excited and wanted to enjoy the stars given we thought the cloud cover was very light and shouldn't impact the evening... Well, it wasn't the weather that was a BIG LET DOWN... it was the crowd. I don't know how many people they set up for that evening, BUT IT WAS WAY TOO CROWDED. I counted over 300, but I know there were way more than that. We headed to the theater to watch the indoor show around 7:40 and were lucky to be one of the 1st in line. We waited as the packed theater exited before our show. We sat down in the 94 seat theater and every seat was taken. Along with this, they allowed another 30+ people to stand in the back --- which the person running the show jokingly mentioned that they were breaking fire code. After exiting the 15 min presentation (was supposed to be 20 min, but it was rushed), another sold out crowd was waiting to get into the theater. So, three sold out theater shows that I was aware of at 100+ per show had the crowd at, at least 300... This was just our indoor theater experience, the telescopes outside were just as bad... each one had a long line for viewing in the bitter windy cold (one of the large ones was closed which didn't help in the crowds). I wish they had mentioned how this event was OVER POPULATED at the beginning and we probably would have taken the refund or re-schedule... it unfortunately put a damper on my kids experience... McDonald Observatory should take note and be more concerned about customer experience over the ol'mighty dollar...

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Review by !S!WCRTESTINPUT000000!E! on 11/20/19 7:18 AM

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 Twilight program

Review by Mary on 4/30/19 11:33 PM

Although I know Judy works hard, her presentation was misappropriated for the audience. She geared it for 3 rd or 4th graders. The five kids loved it. The 60 adults were bored and wanted more info than the speed of planets around the sun and the software program she used. Very poorly designed. The part where four volunteers rotated the sun was very disappointing. Again, the little boys loved it, but the adults left the room saying, is that what I paid for? A waste of time.!

 Twilight program

Review by Mary on 4/30/19 11:32 PM

Although I know Judy works hard, her presentation was misappropriated for the audience. She geared it for 3 rd or 4th graders. The five kids loved it. The 60 adults were bored and wanted more info than the speed of planets around the sun and the software program she used. Very poorly designed. The part where four volunteers rotated the sun was very disappointing. Again, the little boys loved it, but the adults left the room saying, is that what I paid for? A waste of time.!

 Special Viewing - 36 inch telescope

Review by Steve S on 11/28/18 10:27 PM

The special viewing program at McDonald Observatory provides for a small group (12) to observe objects from a 36-inch telescope located near the top of Mt Locke. We rode on a shuttle from the Visitor's Center to the top of the mountain along with an excellent host/guide/expert. He had a list of about a dozen objects (planets, stars, planetary nebula, galaxies) on which the telescope focused so everyone in the group could take turns looking at the objects through the telescope. The host gave a detailed description of the objects and answered many questions about the telescope and the observatory in general. Luckily, the viewing conditions for our visit (11/27/18) were superb with no clouds and no moon. During the program we also stepped outside the telescope dome to view the sky from the parking lot. Our guide pointed to objects with a laser pointer that were fascinating to see with the naked eye and with binoculars. I doubt you will see the night sky like this in other places in the U.S. If you go in November, be sure to bring warm clothes, hats, and gloves. A blanket to put on the folding chairs inside the telescope dome also really helps.

 Special Viewing - 36 inch telescope

Review by Steve S on 11/28/18 9:12 PM

The special viewing program at McDonald Observatory provides for a small group (12) to observe objects from a 36-inch telescope located near the top of Mt Locke. We rode on a shuttle from the Visitor's Center to the top of the mountain along with an excellent host/guide/expert. He had a list of about a dozen objects (planets, stars, planetary nebula, galaxies) on which the telescope focused so everyone in the group could take turns looking at the objects through the telescope. The host gave a detailed description of the objects and answered many questions about the telescope and the observatory in general. Luckily, the viewing conditions for our visit (11/27/18) were superb with no clouds and no moon. During the program we also stepped outside the telescope dome to view the sky from the parking lot. Our guide pointed to objects with a laser pointer that were fascinating to see with the naked eye and with binoculars. I doubt you will see the night sky like this in other places in the U.S. If you go in November, be sure to bring warm clothes, hats, and gloves. A blanket to put on the folding chairs inside the telescope dome also really helps.

 Sucks

Review by RTA on 12/31/17 3:54 PM

Too many people!!! Not fun at all

 Daytime Tour

Review by Kid Charlemagne on 6/10/17 1:42 AM

The experience was educational, as well as fascinating and thought-provoking, about our whole solar system. So impressed with our tour guide, Kelly, too!!!

 Solar Viewing and Telescope Tour

Review by Kim/Gary on 2/14/15 3:55 PM

Kelly taught us about the Sun and its properties! The tour of the telescopes and their roles were awesome! He really knew how to explain the universe and all the technical jargon! Thanks for a lovely experience!

 Star Party

Review by Kim/Gary on 2/14/15 3:49 PM

Our speaker was very informative and entertaining! I loved the stories of the constellation stories were perfect!The telescopes were manned by very helpful scientists! Perfect weather was a bonus! I can't wait to come back

 Booking only

Review by CA Traveler on 8/16/14 1:54 PM

We have not yet enjoyed our Twilight Program and Star Party scheduled for October 7, 2014, but I need to say now that the online reservation system is exceptional, leaving very few, if any, questions unanswered. The follow-up information returned to my email after purchase is very helpful. Based on our experience so far, I'm looking forward to our visit. Thanks, McDonald Observatory folks, for making such programs available. California Traveler to West Texas, R. Baker

 worth visiting

Review by tats me on 6/7/13 8:55 AM

We went for star party, since it happened to be full moon night with little clouds around we weren't able to witness the star constellations by naked eye...however the crew got the images captured earlier screened for us. We also took a close view of moon and saturn through the telescope with information provided by the crew on what we are viewing. They also had a spectrum seminar where they demonstrated how light gives out different colors. Overall it was quite informative and we really enjoyed it.

 star party n hubble telescope movie

Review by tats me on 6/7/13 8:51 AM

We went for star party, since it happened to be full moon night with little clouds around we weren't able to witness the star constellations by naked eye...however the crew got the images captured earlier screened for us. We also took a close view of moon and saturn through the telescope with information provided by the crew on what we are viewing. They also had a spectrum seminar where they demonstrated how light gives out different colors. Overall it was quite informative and. We really enjoyed ourselves.

 Disappointment

Review by West Texas Nana on 4/6/13 10:18 AM

We were disappointed with staff & presentation. Too bad it was an overcast night so we could only see Jupiter. The largest disappointment was the directors need to pump up the visiting honor students and down rate other universities. Were you afraid your students are mediocre? We met folks from PA, Houston, Texas and Canada and they didn’t understand why anyone would be little others either. We found ourselves making apologies for something we didn’t say because it was so offensive. Thanks for making Texas look stupid to others. We believe $34.00 per person was a gross over payment for the services we received. The only highlight to the night was Mark’s program outside explaining the thirteen astrology symbols. But once we went inside, it turned into a sells seminar for one to buy Star Date product which is a part of UT. What a LARGE disappointment!

 Star Party

Review by WestTexan on 12/30/12 7:22 PM

As always, the guys at the Observatory continue to impress. They offer an interesting lecture set in the fantastically beautiful setting in the Mountains with great insight and knowledge about the stars that we have seen our entire lives but know so little about. If you're going to go, be prepared for any weather. We went in on 12/29/12, and it was pretty chilly and windy. I took a big thick blanket, flashlights, a 5 MW laser pointer, and a Thermos full of hot coffee as well as some jerky. But, I've got to say, my girlfriend was ecstatic with the one-of-a-kind experience like the one offered in a star party! Great job and I hope to do it again with my kids someday!!!

 You haven't seen the night sky until you've been to a McDonald star party!

Review by canis majoris on 7/18/12 1:01 PM

My wife and I went to the observatory on the night of July 17, 2012 and we had a wonderful time! Living on the outskirts of our city where light pollution is not too bad, we thought we had seen the best the night sky can offer--that was, until we had the pleasure of experiencing a McDonald Observatory Star Party. We had never seen so many stars and celestial objects in our lives! We got to see Saturn and its moons, M13, the Whirlpool Galaxy, nebulas, and star clusters through the many telescopes they had set up. Shooting stars were also abundant throughout the night. The best part of our visit was the long-exposure photography we took of the Milky Way. We got some of the most beautiful photos we've ever taken. The staff are very knowledgeable and friendly, and they know exactly what they are talking about. The Star Date Cafe serves good food, and the gift shop is loaded with merchandise from simple souvenirs all the way up to Dobsonian telescopes! We plan on returning in the near future. This is a wonderful experience for anyone interested in astronomy and the heavens, and is also a very nice way to spend time with the family.