Connect2Texas

McDonald Observatory

Window to the Universe at McDonald Observatory - Texas Parks & Wildlife [Official]

Stay in your classroom and visit McDonald Observatory in the “Live From McDonald Observatory” distance learning program. These videoconference programs are interactive science learning experiences that take you and your students on a virtual field trip to the Davis Mountains of west Texas. Videoconferences are fully interactive connections between one class (or student club) of up to 35 students. The content of all videoconferences is aligned with TEKS/TAKS curriculum. We offer many different videoconferences that include engaging experiences such as: take your students on a virtual tour of McDonald Observatory; complete a hands-on activity; see unique science demonstrations; and get live telescopic views sent to your classroom of the Sun, Moon and Venus from telescopes equipped with special video cameras and solar filters.


To see our scheduled programs go to Connect2Texas and select McDonald Observatory from the program filter.


Any program may be requested at your preferred date/time by contacting Education Coordinator Marc Wetzel at (432)426-3672.

Observing the Sun and it's Features

Grades: K-12

Cost: FREE

Length: 50 minutes


In this 50-minute videoconference program, students are given a brief introduction to the UT McDonald Observatory, make live telescope observations of our star the Sun with telescopes equipped with special video cameras and solar filters, complete their student sheet, and learn about the solar features they’ve seen by watching unique science demonstrations. Students can ask their questions to your videoconference facilitator, Marc Wetzel, during the Q/A period at the end of the videoconference. Telescope views will be real time; in case of inclement weather or equipment problems, recorded views will be provided.

Observing the Moon and Craters

Grades: 4-8

Cost: FREE

Length: 50 minutes


During the video conference, Marc Wetzel and your students will take a brief helicopter tour of the UT McDonald Observatory, make real-time observations of the crescent Moon (weather permitting), make and observe their own craters and identify crater features and the forces that create them by watching demonstrations. We encourage teachers to facilitate the making craters activity in your own classroom during the video conference, and have each student complete the making craters data sheet while they work in a small group (2-4 students). Telescope views will be real-time; in case of inclement weather or equipment problems, recorded views will be provided. This video conference will enrich your instruction and engage your students whether they interact with McDonald Observatory or not during the program.

Observing Venus! Explore How It Changes

Grades: 3-5

Cost: $100

Length: 50 minutes


In this 50-minute videoconference program, students are given a brief introduction to the UT McDonald Observatory, make live telescope observations of Venus with telescopes equipped with special video cameras, and complete their student sheet. By exploring Galileo's drawings and watching videoconference demonstrations, students make the same discovery about our solar system that Galileo made in 1610. Students can ask their questions to Marc Wetzel, your videoconference facilitator during the Q/A period at the end. Telescope views will be real time; in case of inclement weather or equipment problems, recorded views will be provided.

Observe Venus! Explore Phases

Grades: 6-12

Cost: $100

Length: 50 minutes


In this 50-minute videoconference program, students are given a brief introduction to the UT McDonald Observatory, make live telescope observations of Venus with telescopes equipped with special video cameras, and complete their student sheet. By exploring Galileo’s drawings and watching videoconference demonstrations, students discover the reason Venus goes through its phases, as well as the current Venus phase. Students can ask their questions to your videoconference facilitator during the Q/A period at the end of the videoconference. Telescope views will be real time; in case of inclement weather or equipment problems, recorded views will be provided.

Telescopes and Careers at McDonald Observatory

Grades: 3-12

Cost: $100

Length: 50 minutes


In this 50-minute videoconference program, students are given a brief introduction to the UT McDonald Observatory, take a virtual tour of the 2.1m (82”), complete their student sheet, and learn more about the different careers at McDonald Observatory. Students can ask their questions to your videoconference facilitator during the Q/A period at the end of the videoconference.

Content Disclaimer
The views and opinions expressed are those of the contributing members of Connect2Texas and do not necessarily represent the views of the Education Service Center Region 11. While some content is deemed appropriate for various curriculum standards used by viewers nationwide, most content providers make an effort to tie their content to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).