We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

McDonald Observatory

3640 Dark Sky Drive, Fort Davis, TX 79734-1337
+1 432-426-3640
Website
Save
Review Highlights
Our Star Party didn’t go as expected but was still fun

It was sleeting heavily when we arrived and showed no signs of clearing or even slowing. As we... read more

Reviewed 4 days ago
Dmarkwind
,
Kansas City, Missouri
Ponied up twice in 13 months for this Stellar Soirèe

An incredible outdoor evening in the Mountains of Southwest Texas...Guided tour of the... read more

Reviewed 6 days ago
BentonHall
,
Plano, Texas
Read all 1,023 reviews
Map
Satellite
Map updates are paused. Zoom in to see updated info.
Reset zoom
Updating Map...
Overview
More
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.
  • Excellent77%
  • Very good17%
  • Average4%
  • Poor1%
  • Terrible1%
Travellers talk about
“night sky” (109 reviews)
“solar viewing” (73 reviews)
“star parties” (82 reviews)
Closed Now
All hours
Hours Today: 10:00 am - 5:30 pm
Suggested Duration: 2-3 hours
LOCATION
3640 Dark Sky Drive, Fort Davis, TX 79734-1337
CONTACT
Website
+1 432-426-3640

Similar Things to Do in Fort Davis

Write a Review
Reviews (1,023)
Traveller rating
Traveller type
Time of year
Language

1 - 10 of 1,013 reviews

Reviewed 4 days ago

It was sleeting heavily when we arrived and showed no signs of clearing or even slowing. As we checked in, we were afraid the Star Party we’d bought tickets for would be cancelled, and this was the only night we had available to be at...More

Thank Dmarkwind
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 2 days ago

The weather doesn't always cooperate for us and the conditions up here in the mountains can be pretty extreme, but we'll always try to proceed with the scheduled events as long as the power stays on and the roads are open. Thanks for sticking it...More

Reviewed 6 days ago

An incredible outdoor evening in the Mountains of Southwest Texas...Guided tour of the constellations by laser, viewings thru numerous telescopes, good kitchen, plenty of parking... Incredible scope of God's handiwork on full display Best advice : book ahead and bring blankets in the winter and...More

Thank BentonHall
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 2 days ago

We appreciate the positive feedback, and thanks for visiting again!

Reviewed 2 weeks ago

Fascinating, great afternoon lecture with images of the sun and tour of telescopes. Well worth doing. Tour guide was great with young kids as well as adults.

Thank Slendertraveler
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 1 week ago

Thanks for taking the time to review your experience at the McDonald Observatory. Take care!

Reviewed 2 weeks ago

If you haven’t visited make your reservations NOW. Be sure to sign up for all of the events the day you’re there. Every time we go the program is a little different. The Daytime, Twilight, and Star Parties are all well worth attending. They also...More

Thank Daniel H
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 1 week ago

Just as you suggest, I can't stress enough how important it is to make reservations in advance. Many of the programs, especially the Twilight Program and Star Parties, sell out weeks or even months in advance. Thank you for visiting and leaving such a great...More

Reviewed 3 weeks ago

We did the Solar Viewing, Twilight, and Star Party tours. All were excellent and greatly added to the McDonald Experience. If you can get Kelly as your guide, you have won the tour guide lottery.

1  Thank Altamira01
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 2 weeks ago

Thanks for enjoying all of the public programs, and Kelly certainly appreciates your kindness! Come back and see us sometime, perhaps for a Special Viewing Night on one of the research telescopes to complete the full-spectrum McDonald Experience!

Reviewed 3 weeks ago

We went to the Green Bank Telescope last year and had so much fun we decided we wanted to visit as many more as we could. We are avid listeners to StarDate and recently heard on a podcast about the concern of decline of dark...More

Thank Simone T
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 2 weeks ago

Sounds like ya'll had a great time! Planning your visit around a new moon is a smart move, that way you get the full benefit of some of the darkest skies in North America and see the most stars and deep space targets for the...More

Reviewed 4 weeks ago

The star show was very interesting. Plenty of telescopes for individual viewing. The surrounding scenery was awesome.

Thank Janis W
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 4 weeks ago

Thanks for taking the time to review your experience at the McDonald Observatory Visitors Center. Take care!

A TripAdvisor Member
182
Reviewed 13 October 2017 via mobile

The McDonald Observatory is well worth your time to visit. We took the self guided tour since time was tight & in hindsight I think the guided tour would probably be more informative. Wouldn’t you know the night we chose to attend the star gazing...More

Thank A TripAdvisor Member
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 4 weeks ago

Guests that go on the Guided Tour certainly get more access than those that choose the Self Guided version, as you get to go up to the Harlan J. Smith dome floor to see the 107" Telescope. On the Self Guided Tour, the dome lobby...More

Reviewed 10 October 2017

Was there Oct 7. Twilight Program was all inside a theater was a very good reminder about stars and planets with great presentation slides! The Star Party was all outside so bring your jacket! Got to see Saturn and lots of clusters (M13 and M37...More

Thank Linda A
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 4 weeks ago

Indeed the Star Party is a 'must do' at the McDonald Observatory. This is our main public viewing event, and a great opportunity to enjoy some of the darkest skies in the North American continent. The telescope viewing is the highlight of the experience for...More

Reviewed 5 October 2017

Love going to the star parties at the observatory. Still need to make it to the day time tour though. The staff are very knowledgeable and helpful. The telescopes are huge and focused. :) And the stars.. the stars.... oh and of course the hot...More

Thank maniunchik
McDonald_Obs, Public Affairs at McDonald Observatory, responded to this reviewResponded 4 weeks ago

The Visitors Center staff are quite passionate and love getting positive feedback like this, thanks for visiting! Come back and see us again soon, we'll have more hot cocoa ready for you!

Nearby
Nearby Restaurants
Stone Village Market
304 reviews
16.06 km away
Fort Davis Drug Store & Hotel
727 reviews
16.06 km away
Stellina
51 reviews
40.99 km away
Blue Mountain Bistro
331 reviews
16.09 km away
Nearby Attractions
Balmorhea State Park
280 reviews
37.16 km away
Balmorhea Rock Shop
7 reviews
43.69 km away
The Marfa Mystery Lights
390 reviews
47.07 km away
Ask a question
Questions & Answers
hellogoodbye_7
18 July 2017|
AnswerShow all 2 answers
Response from Philip P | Reviewed this property |
Generally attending the Star Party the weather is in the 50's due to altitude. Should wear a jacket and long pants.
2
Votes
hellogoodbye_7
18 July 2017|
AnswerShow all 5 answers
Response from McDonald_Obs | Property representative |
Summer nights at the Observatory can be mild-to-cool, so be prepared for anything! A typical evening will start in the 70's and drop down to the low 60's, but we certainly get colder temps too. I'd recommend the 'layered... More
1
Vote
cdunlap2017
19 May 2017|
AnswerShow all 10 answers
Response from TexasPuma | Reviewed this property |
If the weather forecast is clear I recommend the star party. I was last there in December and the star party was cancelled outside, but they offered different programs inside. I have been there in the summer and the star... More
1
Vote