Forty miles north of Alpine, TX, we found the 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.”
The observatory consists of three telescopes. The 82″,completed in 1939, 107″, completed in 1968 and the 433″ which was dedicated in 1997 and remains one of the largest in the world.
We were able to attend an actual viewing of the sun. We got to see some sun spots and a solar flare. Really cool.
They gave us a tour of the observatory, which I thought would be short, it ended up being a tour of the complete facility including all the telescopes. It lasted over 2 hours.
After the tour we headed to Fort Davis for a late lunch and then back for the night program which allowed us to actually use the telescopes in the telescope park.