McDonald Observatory

The McDonald Observatory is a new addition to the Texas Field Station Network and is available for the study of the land and the celestial universe. Located on 650 acres in the Davis Mountains of West Texas, this mostly undisturbed land in the Chihuahuan Desert is a valuable natural resource, accessible for research and learning.

McDonald Observatory is a research unit of The University of Texas at Austin and 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. 

Some highlights include…

  • Measurements of Earth's evolving gravitational field, including shifts in underground water, conducted by UT Austin's Center for Space Research.
  • Operation Ponderosa, a collaboration with Texas A&M Forest Service to restore vanishing Ponderosa Pines, battered by drought, wildfires and invasive beetles.
  • A study of drought impacts on cacti, led by a UT Arlington graduate student.
  • Discovery of a rare firefly species never seen before on the observatory by a staff member.