Telescope Allocation Committee

Physical Science
Grade Level

This activity acquaints the students with the telescopes and instruments available at an astronomical observatory: McDonald Observatory.Astronomers apply for observing time on research telescopes. They must communicate their research objectives clearly and concisely to members of the McDonald Observatory Telescope Allocation Committee. Based on an astronomer's research proposal, the TAC will decide who observes on what telescope at what time.

Note: We strongly recommend that students do "Astro-Madness" before "Tic TAC".

What Students Do

Students create a research proposal evaluation rubric, write letters to fictious researchers to explain why their proposals were rejected, and write a critique about how they would improve their evaluation rubric.

Materials You Will Need

  • Computer running an Internet browser (Firefox, Chrome, Safari)
  • StarDate radio program scripts (online or in print)
  • Observing proposal abstracts

Comments: Send feedback on this lesson plan to

*TEKS are Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. For more information, visit


©2015 The University of Texas McDonald Observatory