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Published: January 4th 2013
The McDonald Observatory, first of all, has nothing to do with the burger place. It is named after the man who left all of his fortune upon his death for the construction of an observatory. Mr. McDonald’s family thought he was nuts and they fought for the money in court. When it was all said and done, the University of Texas at Austin had about $800,000 to build a telescope and the structure to support it. Today, the McDonald Observatory holds the third largest telescope in the world, in the area of Fort Davis, which is considered the darkest site in the continental United States. Here the stars shine in their full splendor!
For $5 you can attend a Solar Viewing, which will show you the sun through their telescope filters live. This is one of the coolest things ever. For $3 more you can take a guided tour of the telescopes up the hill, or you can take a self-guided tour of the largest telescope at no cost. Two hours will do to visit the Observatory, but the effects will stay with you for longer as you will find yourself looking up at the sky much more than before.
Just 20 minutes south of the Observatory is the Davis Mountains State Park, a favorite of campers. The Indian Lodge is a hotel inside the park, lovely in white nestled in a mountain. Its small rooms have wooden floors and ceilings and everything needed to make you feel as if living in a rustic, although with all the comforts of home, cabin.
At the David Mountains State Park there is a viewing point, high up a mountain, where you can see around the area for miles. Taking a picnic up there would make for the most scenic lunch of your life. McDonald Observatory
Frank N. Bash Visitors Center
3640 Dark Sky Drive,
McDonald Observatory, TX 79734
(432) 426-3640 http://www.mcdonaldobservatory.org Davis Mountains State Park and Indian Lodge
Fort Davis, TX 79734
(432) 426-3337 http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/davis-mountains http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/indian-lodge
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