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“Star Party? Make sure the skies are clear”

McDonald Observatory
Ranked #1 of 12 things to do in Fort Davis
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: The McDonald Observatory Visitors Center staff appreciate all of the positive reviews (and even some of the negative ones, too!) that well-meaning and well-intentioned visitors have left over the years. However, we feel that TripAdvisor does not provide anywhere close to the level of management tools needed to combat the misinformation that routinely is provided by, again, well-intentioned visitors to others visiting its pages. With no way other than the "management response" feature to cull and corral the sometimes wildly misleading information posted on these pages, we feel that using TripAdvisor for anything beyond getting the general feel of the establishment is pointless.
Useful Information: Wheelchair access, Activities for older children, Food available for purchase
Reviewed 21 March 2010

My family and I just got back from visiting Fort Davis for Spring Break. We took a fantastic daytime tour and were given two presentations from two different tour guides, both fantastic and interesting. Well worth your time and money.

We headed up this past Friday night for the Star Party, as did several hundred other people. We saw some clouds rolling in, but decided to take the chance, since the website said that on cloudy nights they "conduct indoor programs instead". I WRONGLY assumed that we would get atleast one interesting and worthwhile presentation for our money if nothing else.

The clouds stayed off long enough for us to get a great glimpse of Saturn, however then the clouds rolled in and we had to take the party inside. They had some strange video looping in the auditorium until our presentation started. The presentation consisted of a few clips of the different kinds of satellites, followed by a 5 minute how to navigate through a website to find out when a satellite will go by your house. REALLY, with all the resources they have, this is what we got for $40, a 10 minute talk on satellites.

It seems to me, that a presentation on constellations, planets, the moon, etc could have been given for atleast 30 minutes. They got their money, but I am sure that we were not the only ones that left feeling ripped off. They could of put some effort into the indoor programming.

Needless to say, if ever in the area do go for the daytime tour. I would even recommend the Star Party, but only if there is not a cloud in sight. Hopefully next time we will have better luck.

Thank my3girlsAustin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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1,028 - 1,032 of 1,051 reviews

Reviewed 22 February 2010

A must-see if you are in the area! Try to attend a star party - great for both amateur astonomers to a family night out alike. The staff is enthusiastic and eager to answer any questions. All set in the fantastic Davis Mountains with views that take your breath away. The day program may be a bit long for younger children, but this is a unique experience for all.

Thank Unbeatenpath
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 October 2009

Just returned from a special viewing night. Always a terrific experience.
This time we stayed at the astronomers' lodge and got on the big 'scope. (you have to be a "friend of the mcDonald", $75 per yr with other benefits)
Neat people, great view up on Mt Locke, and reasobale accommadations.
If you're into stars, sky, milky way, peaceful and relaxing, its a great trip.
Not so great if you're the go-go-go type.
For me, I just wish it was easier-faster to get here.

Thank HOUAP6804
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 July 2009

The daytime tour is okay, definitely worth the money and you've gotta do it to see the incredibly cool telescopes and learn about the technology that makes them possible, but the real magic happens at night- tuesday, friday and saturday they have "star parties" where you go at night and look through telescopes.... but you don't really have to use the telescopes because the night sky is just GORGEOUS and it looks like you can see every single star- we even saw the milky way! incredibly inspiring. I really want to go back!

Thank oodleday
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 12 June 2009

Well, I've either been close to McDonald Observatory, or camping at Fort Davis, and unable (because of time) to go to the Observatory. It is amazing! It is the greatest! I just wish we didn't have cloud cover, we did (when the clouds broke) get to see Saturn. I was disappointed that we didn't get to look throught the 84 or 102 scopes :( There is another (more wonderful) telescope viewing area...Brazos Bend State Park, and the University of Houston, Nasa lets you get up close and personal to the planets. Opps back to McDonald....the programs...and tours were wonderful.

1  Thank OneSoaringSpirit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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