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.


Any program may be requested at your preferred date/time by contacting Education Coordinator Marc Wetzel.


To view our currently scheduled programs click here.

Observe the Sun During Astronomy Day (yearly special event)

Grades: K-12

Cost: FREE

Length: 45 minutes


The Frank N. Bash Visitors Center at McDonald Observatory invite students and their teachers everywhere to celebrate Astronomy Day during this special interactive videoconference program. Students will make live telescope observations of our star the Sun with telescopes equipped with special video cameras and solar filters. During the videoconference, students complete their Student Sheet, and learn about the solar features they’ve seen by watching unique science demonstrations. Students will learn even more through the Q/A session near the end of the videoconference. Your students in grades K-4 will be interactive with facilitator Marc Wetzel at the McDonald Observatory during the videoconference. Each student in your classroom should be provided a pencil and the Student Activity sheet, and be prepared to ask questions. We've designed this videoconference session to align with TEKS for grades K-12. We hope that our Astronomy Day videoconference will excite your students about science and technology.

Observing the Sun and it's Features

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 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 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).