McDonald observatory

I’d driven past this observatory complex outside Ft. Davis a few times on my way elsewhere.  This time I decided to stop in.

Tickets for the daytime tour were $9.   They max at 30 peeps but I think there were about half that in our group.   The tours (and shuttle driving, and apparently snack bar attending) were provided by an outstanding young fellow named Stephen (black cap):

We started at the original telescope, which

Stephen demonstrated and allowed a kid to move with a manual control.  :-)  Just before we left that observatory the dome and telescope were returned by the PC to the previous position, I was surprised how quickly it moved.  The ‘scope, slot, and dome all move in this quick video:

Parking for that scope is at the end of a TxDOT-maintained spur.  The state sign marks the spur/lot boundary as “the highest point on Texas Highways”.  Stephen also suggested it is the highest publicly-accessible roadway in Texas.  If so, I parked in the highest available spot on the highest publicly-accessible parking lot in Texas:

[caption id=”” align=”alignnone” width=”1280”] Blue truck is a permanent fixture so the parking spot isn’t available! Last registered in 2001, IIRC.[/caption]

The other large ‘scope is the Hobby-Eberly, one of those new compound lens ones.  It does spectrum analysis (rather than optical observation), and therefore can use fiber optic cables to shunt the received info around. 

I tried to get a pic of Muffin in front of the Hobby;  the best of that series was this all-too-predictable shot: