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McDonald Observatory

McDonald Observatory, a research unit of The University of Texas at Austin, is one of the world’s leading centers for astronomical research, teaching, and public education and outreach. Observatory facilities are located atop Mount Locke and Mount Fowlkes in the Davis Mountains of West Texas, which offer some of the darkest night skies in the continental United States.


Radio Programs

War Work Soldiering through a war December 8, 2016

More Reionization An early light in the young universe November 4, 2016

Galactic Grid Plotting the galaxy and beyond August 30, 2016

The Great War, IV War changes an astronomer’s destiny May 12, 2016

Robotic Telescopes Robots take over the telescopes April 26, 2016

Moon and Aldebaran Patiently watching the bull’s eye October 29, 2015

Hot Planet A world you wouldn’t want to visit October 12, 2015

Hunting Planets IV Patiently looking for planets August 28, 2015

Hunting Planets III Looking for big, cold planets August 27, 2015

Hunting Planets II More nights hunting for planets August 26, 2015

Hunting Planets Getting ready to hunt planets August 25, 2015

Changing Seasons Changing seasons on a cold world November 10, 2014

Cloudy Skies Cloudy skies on a cold moon November 9, 2014

Different Explosions Exploding stars with a difference July 18, 2014

Zombie Stars The night of the living dead stars July 16, 2014

McDonald at 75, V Studying the mysteries of the universe May 8, 2014

McDonald at 75, IV Probing the mysteries of the stars May 7, 2014

McDonald at 75, III Collaboration in the name of science May 6, 2014

McDonald at 75, II Lawsuits, recruitment, and stars May 5, 2014

McDonald at 75 The start of a scientific adventure May 4, 2014

Distant Planets IV Young planets on the move April 30, 2014

Distant Planets III A giant planet near the head of the water snake April 29, 2014

Distant Planets II A patient search for distant planets April 28, 2014

Distant Planets Looking for hard-to-find planets April 27, 2014

Pollux A “wobbly” planetary discovery March 1, 2014

Z Machine IV Astronomy in a test tube February 5, 2014

Z Machine III Making a star in a bottle February 4, 2014

Getting Started Cooking up a piece of glass December 30, 2013

HETDEX Update An upgrade for dark energy November 3, 2013

A New Start An observatory gets a new start September 2, 2013

Changing Directions A change of direction for McDonald Observatory September 1, 2013

Solar Twins II Hunting for worlds like Earth June 1, 2013

Keeping Tabs Keeping an eye on a fuzzy foot May 7, 2013

Recalibrating Recalibrating a space telescope May 6, 2013

Small Black Holes Looking for tiny black holes February 24, 2013

First Steps Angling in on the stars December 4, 2012

RR Lyrae The rhythmic beat of a star December 3, 2012

‘Titanic’ Discoveries A big moon keeps its secrets November 18, 2012

Gamma Cephei IV Getting messy for science September 4, 2012

Gamma Cephei III Keeping a planet on the table September 3, 2012

Gamma Cephei II A gnat’s eyelash and a distant planet September 2, 2012

Giant Magellan Telescope A new “giant” eye on the universe May 13, 2012

Humid Skies Measuring the humidity on a cold world May 4, 2012

Star in a Bottle Making a bottleful of starstuff April 12, 2012

White Dwarf Quakes Stars that “quake” in the night April 10, 2012

Record Breaker An unprecedented sphere of darkness February 5, 2012

Early Start Getting an astronomical head start September 11, 2011

Kepler III Two ways to find planets August 26, 2011

Kepler II Winnowing a list of possible planets August 25, 2011

Kepler I Watching for some stars to blink August 24, 2011

Van Biesbroeck's Star Hunting up a faint cosmic bulb July 15, 2011

Cosmic Inflation IV Fast expansion in past and future June 17, 2011

Cosmic Inflation III Universes without end June 16, 2011

Cosmic Inflation II A "lumpy" recipe for the universe... June 15, 2011

Cosmic Inflation Giving the universe a big push June 14, 2011

Telescope Facelift II Keeping a giant telescope on track June 2, 2011

Telescope Facelift A facelift in the name of science June 1, 2011

Planet Search Searching for faint wobbling planets May 24, 2011

Red Dwarf Planets Looking for close planets around close stars May 23, 2011

Clean Mirrors Keeping a clear view of the heavens May 10, 2011

Basket O' Planets A basketful of planets April 20, 2011

M87 Black Hole Looking for a hidden giant March 9, 2011

Upsilon Andromedae An out-of-whack solar system February 8, 2011

Featured Images

Sunset over the Davis Mountains

Earliest Sunsets December 1, 2016

Artist's concept of a young Jupiter-like planet

Young Giant August 27, 2015

Otto Struve, first director of McDonald Observatory

First Director May 8, 2014

Autographs from the dedication of McDonald Observatory

Who's Who May 7, 2014

Construction of McDonald Observatory's 82-inch telescope, ca. 1934

Celebrating May 6, 2014

Participants in the McDonald Observatory dedication, May 5, 1939

Getting Started May 5, 2014

Diagram showing the layouts of several exoplanet systems

Going Farther April 30, 2014

Artist's concept of a range of recently discovered exoplanets

Planet Hunting April 28, 2014

A discharge of energy from the Z Machine at Sandia National Laboratories

Zapped! February 3, 2014

An early view of the primary mirror of McDonald Observatory's first telescope

Seeing the Light December 31, 2013

Technicians replace equipment for HETDEX at McDonald Observatory

On (and Off) Track November 4, 2013

Artist's concept of the Gamma Cephei star system

Stellar Geometry September 4, 2012

Horsehead Nebula photographed through a McDonald Observatory telescope

3D Horsehead December 20, 2011

Artist's concept of upgraded Hobby-Eberly Telescope

Facelift for Science June 3, 2011

Comet Hartley-2 from McDonald Observatory

Jolly Green Comet October 21, 2010

Hobby-Eberly Telescope at McDonald Observatory

Searching the Darkness October 15, 2010